19 Jun 2012
Unexpected call-out at Cedars Park
Monday 28th May 2012 saw the beginning of a monitoring project by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) at Cedars Park Cheshunt: The site of Theobalds Palace.
The work to be monitored was the machine stripping of an approach road linking Theobalds Lane with a new public car park on the west of the site. By the end of the day, word was circulating that the JCB had already uncovered brick built structures, pottery and animal bone.
The following day, further examination confirmed these and further features across the 10x45M site. It was soon apparent that the unexpected volume and complexity of archaeological features would fully occupy the two-man MOLA team and would likely require more than the allotted two weeks to properly excavate and record the site.
Following talks with the Society, on Thursday 31st May, EAS Chairman Mike Dewbrey and Director of Excavations Dr. Martin Dearne led a small team of EAS diggers to augment the two professionals
In the course of the day, the team defined and partly excavated two brick built drains running NE/SW and E/W across the site. Some 50M of drain were examined.
The skull of a large carnivore, dislodged by the machine digger, was recovered. Over the Jubilee bank holiday, the skull was given into the keeping of EAS faunal specialist Neil Pinchbeck.
Neil cleaned, photographed and made detailed drawings of the skull and other bones. Examination of the dentition confirmed it as the skull of a large mastiff type dog.
The end of the bank holiday saw the team return to site and begin the sectioning of features showing in the surface of the machine cut. These included a possible boundary ditch along the western edge and a linear feature running east/west across the site. The latter has produced in-situ brickwork 40cms below the machine cut and may represent an earlier drain.
The remainder of the articulated skeleton of the large dog burial was located and excavated prior to recording and recovery.
Bad weather has disrupted the work, which is likely to continue into mid June. Further results will be posted here as they come to light.