Mission Impossible: Making sense of Iron Age field boundaries

For the last 3 weeks we have been excavating what was supposed to be a very simple site with pretty much only a big Iron Age enclosure ditch….. It turned out instead that the site was criss-crossed with small linears, ditches and gullies partially overlaid by what I can only describe for the moment as an activity area of probable Anglo -Saxon date. So we spent most of the 3 weeks trying to understand their nature, period and their relations. This was made even more difficult by the almost total absence of finds, and by the scorching hot weather.  As it happens the developer wanted his site back, so we did all possible in the time allowed and then we had to pack up.  I remained on site for a week of watching brief which, in spite of the weather suddenly turning rainy and stormy, turned out to be much more pleasant then what expected as the workers kept me supplied with hot coffee and doughnuts!

During the breaks I kept going back to the excavation area to see if, after the rain, the situation might have become  clearer, but to no avail…

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Today though, just one hour before I was due to leave the site, the mechanical digger started working on the area we had excavated, cutting a long section all along the bulk. Even though I was not meant to check while they were going thorough the already excavated area, I took the occasion to have a look. Amazingly the digger exposed several of the intersection of the ditches, making clearer what cut what, and eve more amazingly uncovered a large deposit which contained a conspicuous amount of burnt pots, one of which was still intact before the “gentle” hand of the mechanical digger got in to it. The workers were very kind and decided to stop the digging and give me time to clean and record the sections and to take pictures. They also helped me to collect the pieces of the large pot that can now be put back together and can be used for dating!!! So I guess tomorrow the coffee and doughnuts will be on me!

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