18 Jul 2017
Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 6
Picking up where we left off on Sunday, the long-awaited extension to trench two was opened today, immedately to the south of the brick floor, aiming at exposing much more of it and hopefully explaining some of its oddities, including the recess at the west end (under plastic sheet, pictured), which appears to show another brick surface underneath the main one.
The floor so far exposed is heavily worn and perhaps even rutted, indicating heavy use and frequent foot traffic, and there's a thin diagonal line of bricks set in the floor which could possibly be a filled in drainage feature - whatever this room was it seems to be a fairly functional part of the palace.
At the east end of trench 2, the thick deposit of coarse rubble is now fully excavated and, as we had hoped, has revealed a substantial wall which could possibly an east end of our building.
Things are slightly complicated by the fact that the brick floor seems to have been laid on top of this wall, and the wall itself is not quite on the same alignment as the partition wall in trench 2.
There are several possible explanations, including that this was an external end wall which was then demolished when the building was remodelled, or it could even once have been a subterranean wall forming part of a cellar.
We may be able to tell more about it once today's extension makes more progress, but proper interpretation will probably have to wait until post-excavation.
Meanwhile trench 1 finally yielded evidence for the north edge of the building - a very heavily disturbed and partially robbed out line of bricks seems to mark all that is left of the footings of the building at this point.
This is very close to, and likely paralell with our drain, strongly suggesting the drain was laid along the edge of the building (or range of buildings), probably serving several garderobes (toilets) in this block, similar to the ones on the south side of the building we found in 2014-15.
The star finds of today were both decorated stoneware, similar to the piece we found on day 4.
The first, as before, bears a coat of arms which probably once formed part of a 'Bartmann' (i.e. Bearded Man) jug - so called because they bore the face of bearded man on the neck. Once nicknamed 'Bellarmines' due to their supposed resemblance to a cardinal of the same name, they later acquired additional decoration on the body in the form of medallions with coats of arms of royalty and notable families.
Body sherds of these vessels are ubiquitous at Elsyng, but finding decorated fragments is much less common.
The second piece is much more unsusual - although made in essentially the same fabric, this pot is decorated with the figure of a man in archetypal Tudor costume - doublet and trunk hose, and perhaps even a ruff. He is standing in an outdoor setting, possibly a hunting scene.
Sadly his head and feet are missing but interestingly the pot is decorated in at least three colors - the typical brown base and with blue and yellow-green hilights on the figure.
The forecast for tonight is heavy thunderstorms - this may actually do the site some good, since things were starting to bake this aftertnoon and a good soak may make things easier to work tomorrow.
We'll just have to hope the rain clears up by the time we get on site tomorrow morning!