20 Jul 2012

Festival of British Archaeology, Forty Hall, Day 4

truncated wall

Despite the persistent drizzle all day today we got a lot of work done and have expanded our main trench to further explore the walls and floor surface first uncovered yesterday.

The mortared surface with the circular pit cut into it is bounded on the north side by a small well preserved wall. The surface itself is only a fairly narrow strip with a straight edge running parallel to the wall which looks like a robbed-out wall line. The mortar surface may therefore represent the floor of a corridor within a building.

eas diggers

Meanwhile, a stub of brickwork in the north east corner of the trench that we took yesterday to be part of a wall has in fact turned out to be part of a brick surface, with a noticeable slope to the east. We have only uncovered part of this feature so far and its purpose is not clear.

brick surface emerges

An extension to the trench at the south west corner was intended to pick up what looked like a point in the robbed out wall line where brickwork had survived, but revealed instead a brick surface. Like the other corner, this will be expanded and investigated further tomorrow.

As with all the best archaeology, the interpretation and story of the site has changed on an hourly basis and no doubt will change again before the weekend is over. Whatever the resolution, the building at least at this end is much more complicated than the simple rectangular barn we set out to study.

clay pipe bowl

The trench has produced relatively few small finds so far, and those it has produced have not been much help in dating the building, since there is so much post-palace demolition disturbance in the area. However, today did produce the star find of the week so far in the shape of a very rare sixteenth century tobacco pipe bowl. The tiny size of the bowl dates it to around 1580, when pipe tobacco was an expensive luxury import.

The weather looks set to improve for the weekend so we hope to see plenty of visitors tomorrow and on the main event day on Sunday when there will be a stall with a display of finds and information about this dig and the work we have been doing up at Forty Hall itself as part of the Heritage Lottery Fund renovation.


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