03 Jun 2018

Forty Hall Spring Dig - Day 7

trench 2 drain and walls
drain (foreground) crude brick floor (mid-left) and corner of barn wall (under black and white scale)

The final day of our spring dig went well, as we finished recording the complex sequence of features in trench 2, with the large brick-walled drain and the north-west corner of the 'long barn' building we've been excavating during the week.

At the east end of the trench (pictured), there are definite signs of efforts having been made to remove part of the drain (the top course of bricks have been cut away on both sides), as well as a broader cut taking away part of the crude brick floor between the drain and the wall of the barn building.

We think that the floor was probably an external feature and may have been associated with some sort of (perhaps timber) superstructure above the drain, which was aggressively demolished, probably at the end of the palace's occupation in the mid 17th century. We think it probably unlikely that the superstructure was a garderobe, especially since we know there were at least two very nearby in the adjacent service range (see our 2014/15 digs), but exactly what it was may be impossible to tell since it seems to have been completely cut away.

trench 2 cut feature
shallow cut with tile fragments next to drain

No dig is complete without a last-minute complication to the archaeology, and late in the afternoon while trench four was recorded and backfilled, the west end of trench 2 revealed a linear cut parallel to the drain, containing a layer of peg-tiles that we at first feared would be lying over yet another wall.

Instead they turned out to be lying in a very shallow cut into natural brickearth, and our initial interpretation of this feature is that an initial cut was made for the drain, which for some reason (perhaps mis-alignment) was abandoned and the full cut remade a few feet to the south.

trench 2 final recording
some final recording while the drain is backfilled

The remainder of the day was taken up by some final drawing and surveying and finally backfilling trench 2, a task made difficult by the final arrival of intense sunshine and high humidity. A big thank you is owed to our digging team who never let us down on days like this, especially when they come knowing there's a sizeable spoil heap to tackle.

As ever, the results of the dig will be summarised in due course in future editions of Society News.

We'll be back in Forty Hall in more or less the same spot from the 11th to 22nd of July, when we'll be looking at the rooms of the service range adjacent to the barn. Last year we uncovered a substantial multi-phased brick floor and part of what at the time we thought might be a bread oven, though now we think might be a furnace for heating water in perhaps the palace's scalding house or scullery.

It promises to produce archaeology (and potentially finds) even better than this week, so if you're in the area be sure to pay us a visit - or of course if you want to get involved see this page

During the dig we've been working on turning some of our photos into interactive 3d models, and will continue to do so this week - you can see the results of this (and other work) on our sketchfab pages or follow us on twitter


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