Hello from a wet, muddy, but happy corner of medieval Kent! We have been on site for 5 days now, as our 9th year on site at Randall Manor gets underway. It all started with scorching sunshine and new walls!
As the week progressed everyone has worked so hard in the new trenches for this year. Area 15 focused on walls we had found in 2011 and after a week of hard graft by all, we have uncovered the flint footings to a new building, east of the aisled hall discovered in 2011…
We are also spending a 9th year examining the complex stratigraphy of the detached kitchen building. The archaeology has been well preserved under a layer of demolition and samples taken from the floor surfaces have already revealed substantial information on the medieval diet of the site’s occupiers, including lots of lovely fish bone.
After 5 days, what has struck me the most is the overwhelming enthusiasm from both young and old and the love of archaeology shared by all on site.
We have hosted 4 schools this week: Danecourt Special Needs, Valley Park in Maidstone, Manor Community from Swanscombe and Shorne Primary. Special mention must be made to Trevor for all his assistance and supervision of the schools on site and to Richard and Bernice for giving the children an introduction to archaeology and finds handling sessions.
Even today, with drizzle and rain making eventful appearances all day, over 20 volunteers turned up and got stuck in.
We have enjoyed 9 years of Lottery funding for archaeology projects in the Park, but with the current project coming to a close, Kent County Council stepped in this year to fund the dig, so a big thank you to them!
Most importantly though I would like to pay tribute to all the volunteers who have supported the dig over the years, from the dig tasters, day diggers, new enthusiasts, to the band of highly skilled veterans from archaeology groups across Kent, who come back year after year and make the dig the success it is. They make new diggers feel welcome, are always on hand with helpful advice or a trusty spade, give up their time to show the public around the site and make the wider archaeology project in Shorne Woods Country Park such a joy to be a part of.
They find my trowel when I lose it, recover my wedding ring when I drop it, ferry equipment to and from site and enthuse people of all ages who come to the dig…
So on this Day of Archaeology I salute all volunteers who make archaeology projects across the country such a success and to those who volunteer behind the scenes at the Day of Archaeology itself!
We are a quarter of the way through this year’s season, on site every day to the 27th of July. On the 26th and 27th of July we have the Woodville Household medieval re-enactors in the Park, all part of the Festival of Archaeology…
We hope to have a new landscape archaeology project up and running for next year’s day of archaeology, looking at the landscape around Cobham village, so do watch this space 🙂