29 Aug 2021

Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 7

east end of trench 2
Excavating the baulk from the east end of T2

It was a relatively quiet bank holiday Sunday today in Forty Hall, on day seven of our two-week hunt for the inner gatehouse of Elsyng Tudor palace.

There is still no definitive sign of in-situ structure at either end of trench two, although the large chunks of rubble continue to promise a substantial building not far away.

Yesterday we opened a six metre extension at the east end of trench two in the hope of seeing more of a very dense section of rubble which included mortared-together tiles. This morning, however, once we removed the top pebbly context, there was no sign of the corresponding rubble deposit, meaning that there must be a change in the stratigraphy somewhere in the two-metre baulk that we left between the original trench and the extension.

Therefore, this afternoon, we began working on removing the baulk to see where this change happens (and hopefully why!). We haven't reached a depth yet to provide any definitive answers, but it does seem increasingly unlikely that we will find any structure at this end of the trench.

west end of trench 2
Sloping rubble context at west end of T2 (facing west)

Meanwhile at the other end of trench two we continued to excavate the extensive sloping deposit of rubble in the extended area that we opened on day five. This seems to have confirmed our impression that the coarse rubble deposit thickens and deepens considerably to the north, although we're still not sure whether this is evidence of a rubble filled cut, or if the rubble has been dumped in an effort to partially level out the slope.

Hopefully this will become clearer as we remove the rubble, although the going is being slowed slightly by the abundance of finds in this context - everything from pottery fragments to animal bones, architectural stone and quite a lot of small pieces of window glass.

deer antler
Deer antler

One of the nicest non-ceramic/glass finds of the week came from this context today - part of an antler from a small Red Deer, which is only the second ever found on the site - the last being from our 2019 dig.

This antler is slightly smaller and interestingly, unlike the 2019 specimen, shows no sign of cutting or sawing, appearing to have been shed naturally. This would imply that it had been collected for a purpose, although what that was has to remain speculation.

It is, however, once again a potent symbol of Elsyng, whose principal attraction for Tudor royalty was its close proximity to Enfield Chase.


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