14 Jul 2022

Summer Dig - Day 5

trench 1
Trench 1 facing west - sondage in background - T3 being opened background right

It was another day of slow but steady progress in Forty Hall today, on day five of our two-week hunt for the inner gatehouse of Elsyng Palace.

Yesterday in trench 1 we finished uncovering a deposit of brickearth and rubble, running the whole length of the trench, its surface sloping slightly as the trench runs west of the lime tree avenue.

Today we continued to excavate the preview sondage cut into this context at the west end of the trench but eventually stopped as we approached the safe depth limit - any deeper may risk the sides of the trench collapsing.

There are no signs of the bottom of the rubble and brickearth context in the sondage, while in contrast, at the opposite end of the trench, the context is very thin and shallow, meaning its base must slope very steeply from one end of the trench to another.

If this context represents a long linear, very deep cut, then it could potentially be the moat which we know from documentary evidence fronted the inner gatehouse.

trench 3
Trench 3 - revealing the rubble fill of the possible moat

If this is the case, then we would expect the sloping base of this context to rise up again on the moat's far side, and so to test this we opened trench 3 this morning, which is essentially a continuation of trench 1, but offset to avoid a nearby tree.

We got as far as removing topsoil in trench 3 to reveal the post-palace gravel landscaping deposit, which we then began to remove to reveal the rubble deposit which is filling the possible moat cut.

Tomorrow we'll be able to start removing the rubble-rich layer and hopefully will be able to find a rising edge - if this is the case it should go a long way to leading us to the gatehouse.

trench 2
Trench 2

Meanwhile, excavation continued in trench 2, and yesterday's sondage was widened to the whole width of the trench to further examine the cluster of large rubble fragments and mortar which we hoped might prove to be part of a robbed out structure.

The best word to describe this trench at the moment is 'inconclusive' - whilst we did find more rubble and mortar it is not as cohesive as the cluster we found yesterday and while it still cannot be ruled out, evidence of any buildings in this trench is looking slim at the moment.

Fragment of Delft charger

There weren't any greatly remarkable finds today, although there was yet another fairly sizeable fragment of decorated Delftware, which came from the central part of a charger or large plate, again dating to the first half of the 17th century.


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