20 Jul 2013
Forty Hall - Festival Of Archaeology - Day 4
Our diggers soldiered on as the heatwave continued today, producing interesting archaeology and even some great (and datable!) finds.
We continued to follow the external barn wall that surprised us yesterday by turning both towards and away from the palace at a T junction. As the wall runs east towards the palace courtyard, it becomes increasingly robbed out, eventually being capped by a compact gravel layer and therefore probably does not form part of the seventeenth century barn complex. We have determined that the east/west run of this wall is on the same alignment as a heavily robbed out palace wall we first dug in 2010 -- we now strongly suspect that although this palace wall was demolished, part of its foundations were reused as the footing for parts of the barn -- and it may well be that at least part of the barn is itself sitting on the footprint of a palace building.
Meanwhile, we opened a new small trench to continue to investigate an area at the south end of the barn containing enigmatic circular brick features. Although we have not yet dug enough to shed much light on those, we did encounter the dark "occupation" layer that we found last year. This deposit has to date yielded most of our datable finds and today was no exception, producing a splendidly decorated copper alloy strap end. The skeletal-like design may have been a memento-mori for one of the farm labourers living at this end of the barn. Update: actually, it probably came from topsoil and predates the barns!
We saw our last batch of visiting school children late this morning, from Suffolks Primary School, concluding an enjoyable (if exhausting!) week of talks and tours for schools. Amongst many impressive items they were able to see was the complete boar's tusk that emerged from the same context as the strap end late yesterday afternoon, providing clues as to what the laborers were eating as well as wearing!
Although today was very productive there remain several outstanding questions -- the tangle of wall lines and lack-of-wall-lines is far from solved, and will be a priority for the weekend, and well as gathering as much evidence as possible for potential palace era structures lying beneath the barn.