04 Sep 2021

Forty Hall Summer Dig - Day 13

backfilling trench 2

A good if not hugely exciting day's work on what turned out to be the last day of our almost two week dig in search of evidence for the inner gatehouse of Elsyng Palace, in the grounds of Forty Hall.

Having finished excavation at the west end of trench two by the late morning, we were able to press on with surveying, drawing and photography through lunchtime, and then spent the rest of the afternoon backfilling and clearing the site for another year.

demolition cut
the demolition cut looking west

Although it's maybe not the most photogenic feature we've ever excavated, we're pretty pleased at having been able to fully define at least one edge of the very irregular and very wide rubble-filled demolition cut at the end of the trench.

It is of course far from conclusive evidence of a gatehouse, but it is strong evidence of a substantial, previously unknown structure very close by, and its location roughly between the meeting point of the palace's two principal courtyards does support the gatehouse theory.

demolition cut
the demolition cut looking east

The final small extension at the west end of the trench was maybe beginning to show signs of the cut rising again, but exploring it further in this area may not be possible due to nearby trees and extensive animal burrowing.

In any case, we already have plenty of ideas for excavation targets next near, which may include a re-visit to a stretch of wall we saw in a small test pit some way to the north of this year's dig, which may be on a course to intercept our tentative gatehouse. Watch this space!

As ever we are of course very grateful to our hardy team of diggers whose patience and perseverance make this work possible.

trench 2
job complete

What with the ever evolving covid situation it was touch and go whether this year's dig would even happen and unfortunately we were unable to incorporate the usual batch of students in the dig, which at times did mean we were a little thin on the ground.

All things considered we're happy to have been able once again to advance our understanding of the archaeology of Elsyng, and look forward to hopefully pushing it further next year.

We'd also like to thank the Parks Department of Enfield Council for their kind cooperation in preparing the site for the dig.

As ever, the findings of this year's work will eventually appear in future editions of Society News. Although our lecture programme is still currently suspended, there are talks going on about staging digital lectures, which may also eventually include summaries of this year's and other work in Forty Hall.


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