Trench 9 has really upped its game since the last update and is now at the stage where only a few questions need answering in the final weeks of the season. In the past fortnight many new additions have been made to the trench. Along with archaeological finds, Trench 9 has also welcomed Franzi Le to the crew as an Assistant Supervisor for the last month of the season. On the archaeological front, staff, students and volunteers have discovered loads of new negative features, along with a handful of very nice finds. Supervisor Tom and Assistant Supervisor Franzi have developed new interpretations for some features uncovered last season and have come up with a strong theory as to what had been going on in this trench in the past. There is now a further two groups of 20 stake holes each, including some in very interesting arrangements, some very nice new small finds which have assisted in the interpretations of the trench area, a large number of new negative features cut into what is believed to be a Neolithic ground surface and some re-interpretations of features found last season.
Many of the new features found and interpretations theorized about have revolved around the discovery of preserved wood in Trench 9. Last season only a minimal amount was uncovered, and it wasn’t investigated thoroughly as it was not seen as a priority at that point in time. This season however, preserved wood has been at the forefront, not only in the trench, but across the whole of the site. The discovery of three post-holes by student Rachel and volunteer Bob, two of which contained in situ wood, were a surprise, even more so was a piece of flint found in the bottom of one of the fills by volunteer Bob. It has initially been identified as a small composite tool or a microlith, which is believed to be Mesolithic in date. A more in-depth blog post dedicated to these post holes will be posted within the coming days.
Another area of wood newly discovered in Trench 9 is in the north-west corner of the trench, where there are still remnants of a peat layer. This level was excavated down to last season but was not cleaned up afterwards and so the wood present wasn’t properly identified. After a quick trowel, six brushwood branches, very similar to those in Trench 6, 10 and 11 were found to be extending through the trench edge and angled towards Trench 11. These are possibly contemporary with the wooded areas within that trench, although further investigation between the two trenches will be required to prove this.
The final piece of preserved wood is actually a piece uncovered late last year, but based on its lack of preservation and size, it was thought to be more bog oak, similar to the logs protruding out of the peat bog to the south of the trench. After a discussion, it was decided that the wood would be excavated so that digging could continue in that area of the trench but it was soon found by staff member Franzi, to be a lot better preserved and significantly larger than originally thought. The wood now appears to be sitting on top of and partially within our Neolithic ground surface layer, with a group of stake holes encircling the piece. Early interpretation is that the wood is part of a walkway across the peat bog, with the stakes used to prop up the wood and keep it in place. In the final weeks, we intend to reveal the full extent of the timber, and lift it if logistically possible.
Apart from the wooden areas found recently in the trench, many new negative features have also been revealed by staff and students alike. The last fortnight has predominantly involved the excavation of multiple thin deposits overlying the main context, the Neolithic ground surface. Into this surface there have been more stake holes identified, the addition of several post holes, some possible hearth features and the remnants of what could be a rather impressive burning pit. It is only early days with these new features, but they are to be looked at before the season ends at the beginning of August.
With the end of the season fast approaching, but with loads of progress now made, Trench 9 is looking to be finished in the last few weeks. Pieces of the archaeological puzzle have been falling into place and there is now a clear idea of what was going on in this area in the past. Only a few minor questions need resolving before Trench 9 is completed and can be closed for good. The final weeks will see a few more plans drawn up by staff and students, as well as some minor archaeological investigations undertaken in order to provide more understanding to the finds and features in the trench so here’s hoping to a successful finish to the season! – Tom Lally