No such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes!

Section of WW1 military practice trench

Section of WW1 military practice trench

So…..Chose a site, and hatched a plan, and purchased my ‘this is what an archaeologist looks like’ t-shirt.  Last years ‘day of archaeology’ saw my plans somewhat ‘adjusted’ by a poorly pet cat – all cats seem their normal mischievous selves, so plans still look good.

Check the weather forecast.  It says rain, and lots of it.  I am informed that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes – so I check my clothes they don’t look bad (from a technical point of view that is, from a fashion point of view they perhaps don’t look so good and might be more fitting in the 80s!).

Load up my van with kit – tripod, dumpy, staff, ranging poles, tapes, clipboards, permatrace and such.

Last year on ‘day of archaeology’ I ended up walking around a piece of the local training area looking for WW1 military practice trenches.  I didn’t find them that day, but did since, so started surveying them with some local volunteers last autumn.

The plan today is to go back to the same area and meet up with volunteers to look for further features to survey, and also to carry out surveys on some features previously surveyed.

Corkscrew Picket

Corkscrew Picket

A walk through the site on arriving found four isolated corkscrew pickets with no immediate or obvious related features.  Further into the site a previously undiscovered stretch of around 65 metres of practice trench was found.  This was surveyed doing offsets from a 50 metre tape.

Waterproofs holding up well at this point, but time for a swift (possibly rather early) lunch stop.  The rain picks up tempo.

Lunch done and so to another piece of practice trench.  The section in question may or may not be part of a section which we have already surveyed; the two end about 12 metres from each other, disappearing underneath a more recent pathway.

We head into the undergrowth with tapes to survey.  This section is particularly overgrown, with some substantial areas of trench completely inaccessible.  So lots of taking bearings and triangulation to survey around bushes.  Nearly 2 hours and 92 metres later and this section is now mapped out.

Throughout the rain has got heavier (or my hat has got worse, it is leaking for the first time since I have had it over 10 years ago)

The trench seems to be WW1 in design, with the expected crenelated layout, and in places it is still 2 metres deep.

Given the weather we decide to ‘call it a day’ at this point.  We think we have now identified all the trench in this area, taking levels with the dumpy is going to wait for another day.

Some of the trench surveyed recently were found to very closely follow the high point in the landscape.  On looking at the location of the trenches investigated this afternoon, they also seem to follow the highest contour in the area, overlooking, rather than being associated with the nearby trenches.

A rough outline plan of some we did earlier.....

A rough outline plan of some we did earlier…..

So, job for the weekend, digitise today’s drawings and pop them into GIS software, and arrange dates to finish the survey – write up to got to HER soon after that, and at some point do something looking at their placement within the landscape, and what that tells us about how they may have been used, and how they compare to those on other parts of the local training area.

And if there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes – I seem to have a bad hat, so time to go hat shopping me thinks!……