22nd - 24th March: Fine weather and more results from Trench 2

Posted by steven on 27/03/2005 at 09:17 PM

Improved weather conditions, including some sunshine!, resulted in the archaeologists resuming their work at the High Pastures site.  Progress in Trench 2 continues and an hearth setting is uncovered in the northwest sector abutting the tumbled granite wall.

Still a little rain water in Trench 2 when we arrived on site on the 22nd, but this reduced considerably through the day.  Due to the complexities of the startigraphy excavated in the trench over the past couple of weeks, we have decided to split the trench lengthwise in two (8m x 2m in extent).  This will enable us to leave a baulk (a vertical face) in place through the trench as a control, which should help us to understand the sequence of archaeological layers and deposits that we are uncovering.

Starting at the southeast end of the trench we removed a 6cm spit (layer).  The work was hard at first having to get through a very compact layer of fire-cracked stone and pebbles, which contained charcoal fragments and burnt bone.  Martin recovered three pieces of pottery within this layer, while we also found three lumps of metalworking slag and a large fragment of burnt hazelnut shell.  As we worked towards the centre of the trench the stone layer became less compact and the stone content reduced, although the charcoal and burnt bone remained.  However, this feature of the trench did not continue and the stone content once more increased as we moved northwest, although the sediment here was more moist.  This feature may relate to the results indicated by the resistivity survey in the geophysics, which indicated a possible ‘cut’ feature (a ditch?) running through this area.  In the continuation of the stonier layer in the northwest half of the trench we recovered another fragment of pottery, two pebble hammers and a quartz flake, which was lodged between two larger granite stones, one of which had been heavily affected by heat.  Several of these large granite stones were identified interspersed between the more compact fire-cracked stone and pebbles, although no pattern is apparent as yet with relation to these.

By the 24th March we finished removing the first spit (layer) of archaeological deposit from the newly sectioned area in Trench 2.  We found less stone present in this layer towards the middle of the trench and of particular interest here was an area of buff-coloured sediment, which corresponds with the ‘cut’ feature shown on the geophysics mirroring the high response readings to the southeast.  Some larger pieces of charcoal and burnt bone were recovered from this context, but no finds were made.  As we worked towards the fallen wall at the northwest end of the trench Martin uncovered more granite cobbles, that seemed to be forming some form of feature.  Meanwhile, I started to clean down onto a layer of fire-cracked stone and uncovered a hearth setting, comprising fire-cracked stone and pebbles set against larger granite cobbles from the tumbled wall of the U-shaped structure, some of which were heat affected.  More charcoal and burnt bone was recovered from around the hearth, but again no diagnostic finds were made.

Figure 1.  The hearth setting uncovered in the northwest sector of Trench 2.  Note the dark stained areas of burnt material within the hearth (Scale=0.25m).

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