28 May 2018

Forty Hall Spring Dig - Day 1

trench 1
Trench one and possible wall line (left)

Today was the first day of our spring dig as we return to investigate the complex of walls, drains and floors that make up the rooms of the substantial Tudor palace buildings we've been investigating in the west side of the lime tree avenue in Forty Hall for the last few years.

Last year's dig uncovered some superb archaeology including large areas of intact palace floor surfaces and a beautifully well-preserved structure that at the time we thought might be a bread oven. Following post-excavation work we now think it may be related to some other function such as heating water for a scalding house -- this and other questions will be the subject our July dig later this year.

This week's dig will be focusing on other nearby elements of the palace, and we will be trying to answer questions relating to how the various structures we uncovered last year relate to to each other and especially how (and if) they relate to an L shaped building we discovered in 2012 in the middle of the avenue and at the time interpreted as a post-palace barn.

Today's first trench was opened to pick up the line of an east-west wall that we uncovered last year and now believe may connect to the 'barn'. If it does, this may confirm that the 'barn' complex is in fact a (possibly early) Tudor Palace feature -- perhaps even the 'long barn' we've recently found references to in 16th century documents. Initial progress in trench 1 has uncovered a promising line of rubble that may be the wall we're after, but we won't be sure until we investigate further tomorrow.

trench 3
The wall junction

Meanwhile, we opened a smaller trench to relocate the western end of the east-west wall from last year where it forms a T junction with a north-south wall connecting to the room with our 'bread oven' in it. Last year we noted the junction had a strange join, as if the east-west wall had originally passed through rather abutting it and later been patched. (You can see this in more detail in the 3d model of the trench here (Note that when the model was made we thought the wall was a drain)). This trench was opened to look at the other side of the junction, to see if there is any evidence of a wall having continued beyond it -- the answer to this seems to be a definite 'no' in which case we'll probably record and close the trench fairly quickly tomorrow.

Picture of the drain taken last year

Finally, we opened a third trench slightly to the north to look at where the north-south wall should in theory meet the well-built palace drain we discovered last year. We know very little about this drain and so, as well as giving us a chance to see more of it, we want to know whether and how the north-south wall joins it (or perhaps even crosses it). Unfortunately, the area of this trench looks to have been severely disturbed by tree roots, though we won't know the effect this has had on the archaeology until we make more progress tomorrow.

Hopefully the thunderstorms will hold off long enough for us to find out!

You can explore more 3d models of last years archaeology here.


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