21 Jul 2022
Summer Dig - Day 10
It was a much more pleasant day's digging in Forty Hall today, as temperatures finally began to ease and with a moderate amount of cloud cover for most of the morning and early afternoon, we managed to get a decent amount of work done, including finishing digging and recording trenches 2 and 3, and making a good start on backfilling, which will save us work later in the weekend.
Although we did find very ephemeral evidence in trench 2 for the eastern side of our possible moat cut, trench 3 did not reveal any sign of a corresponding western edge, and both trenches reached their safe depth limits without finding the cut's base.
Both trenches were then fully recorded this afternoon and backfilling has begun in trench 3 and will continue in trenches 2 and 3 tomorrow.
Excavation has continued in trench 1, to remove more of the rubble fill of the 'moat' cut. Once the upper surface of this context, which had baked like concrete in the 40-degree heat of Monday and Tuesday, had been removed, digging was significantly easier and we were able to get through much more of it today, taking the time to carefully sift through the spoil as we went.
The rubble context in trench 1 is much more rich in finds than other trenches (it produced the key on Sunday - see day 8) and a steady stream of pottery, window glass, pins and other finds came out of it for most of the day.
We also cleaned up the eastern end of trench 1 and neatly defined the nearly vertical but not straight cut line of the possible moat. As noted on day 7, if this cut line is the same as the one we defined in trench 2, the 'moat', at least on its eastern side, must follow a curve.
Work has continued in trench 4, which was opened yesterday afternoon close to the western end of the known range of buildings which defined the northern side of the outer courtyard.
Since trenches 1 to 3 have not found any evidence of the inner gatehouse, which we had assumed joined up to the north range, the question then remains as to where the north range terminates, and whether or how it connects to our possible moat.
The location of the north range is currently visible on the ground as a band of slightly greener grass within the lime tree avenue and trench 4 was laid out to cross its inner edge and to take in some of its interior, which in previous digs we have found to contain well-preserved in-situ brick floors.
We've got as far as removing topsoil and starting to remove the inevitable post-palace pebble landscaping deposit which covers most of the site. Hopefully tomorrow we can finish removing this layer fairly quickly and get on to revealing the remains of the building, or whatever else is waiting for us!