Monday, 25 July 2011

18. Friday 22nd July 2011

The last day started fine after a dry night but with the forecast of rain for later in the day. In order to ensure the tents were put away dry, the finds team set to work collecting up all the equipment not in use and taking down and packing away the tents.

All the tents are packed away   Photo © Pat Carroll

Meanwhile the area attacked with mattocks yesterday was scraped clean so that Roger could decide that after many years of work on DF the site had finally reached natural.
The last use of trowels   Photo © Pat Carroll

The last plans were drawn, the surveying was finished off and the last photograph taken so that after lunch all that remained was to backfill. It is as well that the previous finds team members visited the site yesterday as they would have seen a rapidly disappearing trench today

The backfilling begins   Photo © Pat Carroll

By the end of the afternoon a group of exhausted people staged down the hill for the last time. At least the backbreaking work shifting  four years worth of excavated rock back into the hole had dispelled the hangovers from the farewell party for Michelle put on by The Blue Bell in Kettlewell the night before.

The final team   Photo © Pat Carroll

So with a collection of over 550 different finds bags, the 2011 Chapel House Dig ended and we now must look forward to what 2012 may bring.

Farewell DF   Photo © Pat Carroll

Pat Carroll

17. Thursday 21st July 2011

Photo © Pat Carroll

Today the wind changed direction and the weather improved so much that, as you can see, the first task was to remove the poly-tunnel.

Photo © Pat Carroll

The main aim was to clean up the whole of the area ready for the last photographs to be taken. This did however result in a flurry of last minute finds

Photo © Pat Carroll

In the meantime Don and James were busy drawing a detailed 1:100 plan of a yet untouched area at the opposite side of the central track-way, which might just possibly be the target for a new trench next year.

Photo © Pat Carroll

The photographs have been taken and the plans drawn, so take a last look at the area before it disappears forever.

Photo © Pat Carroll

Mattocks at the ready! … One … two… three… go!

Photo © Pat Carroll
Whilst the last plan is being finished in one corner, Roger is keen to see if we have finally reached bedrock and has joined the mattock team.

Pat Carroll

16. Wednesday 20th July 2011

Nearing the end  photo © Pat Carroll

Approaching the end of this year’s dig the emphasis today was on planning and a final clean up. In addition to the work on the main site all the students had the opportunity to carry out some geophysical work.

A complex and detailed plan nears completion   photo © Pat Carroll

The morning had begun cloudy but fine, however by early afternoon the rain started and the midges arrived en-mass. The debate raged as to which was the lesser of two evils, trying to persist with cleaning up in the rain or planning in the poly-tunnel and being eaten alive by the sheltering midges.

An attempt to escape the midges  photo © Pat Carroll

The rain became heavier and a valiant attempt was made to carry on working despite the conditions.

Extreme Archaeology?  photo © Pat Carroll

However by the afternoon break it was decided that the rain was not going to stop and the midges had become too voracious to bear so an early halt was called.

Work has ceased for the day © Pat Carroll
Pat Carroll

Thursday, 21 July 2011

15. Tuesday 19th July 2011

With almost everyone now deployed on recording the site there were very few finds to occupy the Finds Team.  Pat and Phil therefore busied themselves reconciling the find locations plotted by our Total Station with the manual records taken by various Finds Team members over the past two weeks.  With over 500 finds this was no quick job.
Phil and Pat number-crunching (photo by Vera Brearey)
Some of the recording took place in the polytunnel.
Amber & Emerald make scale drawings in the tunnel
(photo by Vera Brearey)
But some recording was taking place outside the tunnel, and sometimes it rained.  The drawing paper is waterproof, but how about the humans?
Rebecca & Helena recording in the rain
(photo by Vera Brearey)
 Vera Brearey

14. Monday 18th July 2011

Somewhat better weather today. 
Cleaning the newly excavated area ready for photography and planning continued, with the ground still very sticky. 
Some possible features were spotted, including what may be some sort of drain set into a levelled floor area.  As always, though, it is hard to be sure.  A possible post hole from the first week of the dig turned out to be a mirage on further excavation.  Sometimes what looks like rocks and soil in an exciting layout suggesting a feature turns out to be just - rocks and soil.
By the end of the day the area was declared ready for photography and Roger climbed his stepladder for the photoshoot, with Don and Doug providing support (for the ladder).
The Photoshoot (photo by Vera Brearey)
Vera Brearey

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

13. Sunday 17th July 2011

This morning was very wet indeed - a cats-and-dogs, coming-down-in-sheets, throwing-it-down morning.  After hurriedly erecting the tunnel over the dig area everyone retreated to tents to wait for the skies to clear a little and (optimistically) for the ground to dry out a little too.  Roger took the opportunity to gather the undergraduates in the big tent for a session on the project report they need to write for their course.  Eventually, towards late morning, the rain slackened off and work got under way.
As we enter the last week thoughts turn to recording, so some of us set to work on the scale drawings of this year's dig area.
Ruth, Amber and Peter with drawing board (photo by Vera Brearey)
The remaining diggers set about cleaning the latest layer, ready for photography.  This layer extended beneath the paving stones found on earlier digs, so all eyes were on the lookout for evidence of cobbles or other relevant features for evidence of an earlier structure.
Cleaning after the rain for photography (photo by Vera Brearey)
Vera Brearey.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

12. Thursday 14th July 2011

Ghyll Cottage (photo by Ruth Spencer)
While everyone has been slaving away on the hillside, work has also been progressing at Ghyll Cottage.

The students have spent one or two days there, one or two at a time, in order to learn about the intricacies of post excavation work, and with Ruth (senior) on hand in case any problems should arise.
To date, they have been kept busy investigating the soil samples for hammer scale and for charcoal. Chantelle and Emerald have inked up their plans; Peter has been cataloguing and recording his cache of snails; Emerald has been drawing the quern and always there are finds to be washed and recorded - not so many bones this year, but a fair amount of clinker has appeared.
The students appear to enjoy their time at the cottage, probably greatly helped by having the luxury of the bathroom and the regular cups of coffee, (drunk while working!) Not to mention the delicious smells which emanate from the kitchen, when Rebecca is cooking.  (Also the opportunity for the occasional sampling of these as well......!)
This last 2 days have been quiet with no students, but it was not lonely as Don was there slowly recuperating. I am pleased to say he looks better all the time – just wanted a rest really!
 It is good to be on top of the finds.........
Ruth (senior)

Thursday, 14 July 2011

11. Wednesday 13th July 2011

Today the naughty diggers thought they would play a little trick on their site director...........

Where did all the diggers go? Ah - there they are...........

So all the naughty diggers were made to do lots of trowelling.....

and they got lots of finds...........

Which made the new finds team of Anne and Peter very happy.......

Todays blog and photos by Chris Bonsall

10. Tuesday 12th July 2011

Today Chris Bonsall and Peter Gallagher were the Finds Managament Team. Here are some of their photos from their exciting day on-site:
Trick photography (photo by C. Bonsall)
Peter, Angel and Don looking confused (photo by C. Bonsall)
More trowelling (photo by C. Bonsall)
VIP visit from Sue Stallibrass of English Heritage (poto by C. Bonsall)
Sue's homemade chocolate buns were to die for......
New man Peter gets his hat mixed up with Bob's... (photo by C. Bonsall)
Site Director: "It's a wrap!" (photo by C. Bonsall)
Chris Bonsall

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

9. Monday 11th July 2011

 Chris Bonsall replaced Helen Steele to join Jane on the Finds Management Team.
Rebecca & Chris discuss a find with Roger
(photo by J. Lunnon)
The cover was taken off the polytunnel to give the trench an opportunity to dry out a little. Several small stones were removed across the lower part of the trench to see if that elusive structure could be revealed. Digging continued steadily as the soil was scraped away and more small pieces of bone were collected and logged.

Don taught Chantelle and Emerald the fine art of surveying with the alidade.
Taking shelter from a shower (photo by J. Lunnon)
Rain interrupted play briefly.

At the end of the day Roger promised that the best of the dig was still to come, hinting that more dramatic changes to the trench were planned for tomorrow?

Jane Lunnon

8. Sunday 10th July

Digging continued both inside and outside the polytunnel.
Some of our seasoned team of Chapel House Wood Dig faithfuls - Michelle, Ruth (not the student!) and Rebecca
(photo by J. Lunnon)
Today student Matthew joined the Finds Management Team, and by the end of the day was surprised to find he had actually quite enjoyed using the total station and doing all the number crunching and recording after all.
Jim and Pete digging outside the polytunnel
(photo by J. Lunnon)
Again the finds were small but plentiful bits of bone and clinker. Everyone seemed much quieter today – perhaps getting a little tired after a week’s worth of digging.

Jane Lunnon

7. Saturday 9th July

Work continued as before, with Roger and Don hoping to see a new structure emerge from the polytunnel. They thought they could see a possible posthole outside the tunnel and a student, Pete, was set to work on drawing it.

Lunch break in some sunshine
(photo by J. Lunnon)
Another student, Ruth, joined the Finds Management Team for the afternoon and proved herself a quick learner and very efficient.
Members of UWHG on their guided tour (photo by J. Lunnon)
Roger provided a group of visiting members of UWHG with a guided tour of the site, and they seemed to enjoy themselves.

No rain today!!
Jane Lunnon

6. Friday 8th July 2011

Again rain showers mixed with baking sun, but work continued of course under the shelter of the polytunnel.
There were lots of little finds – nothing much more than little scraps of bone and clinker, but enough to keep the Finds Team busy all day.

Chantelle and others moving thin layer of stones (photo by J. Lunnon) 

A chain of diggers lifted a layer of stones from the trench under the poly tunnel and carried them in buckets to the stone heap, hoping to reveal traces of a structure underneath which would  match up with the features outside. They then set to work cleaning up the new context.

Roger, Pete and Don lift the flagstone in Context 19 (photo by J. Lunnon)

Meanwhile a large flagstone was lifted outside the polytunnel and diggers were given the task of clearing off the soil from there too.

Jane Lunnon

5. Thursday 7 July 2011

Some further changes to the Finds Management Team – today it was Hugh, Jane and Helen. Weather unpredictable and changeable again.
Everyone having to take jumpers and caggies on and off every half hour or so. 
Some people enjoy the English weather more than others - our American Michelle for example! 
(photo by J. Lunnon) 

The quern in situ (poto by J. Lunnon)

Debbie excavated the quern stone and lifted it out for examination. Don and Roger tried hard to enthuse everyone with their interest and pleasure at the find – not everyone seemed convinced, but UWHG members present on site were suitably excited.
Debbie lifts the quern (photo by J. Lunnon)

There were few other finds so the Finds Management Team continued tidying up the old trench through much of the afternoon.

A brief visit to the site was paid by Rob White of the National Park.

Jane Lunnon.

4. Wednesday 6th July 2011

On my first day with the Finds Management Team I arrived to find the polytunnel waiting on-site – an ominous warning of the weather to come. And we certainly had "weather" – everything from hot sunshine to hail showers.

The number of finds remained relatively small, although Debbie did discover a nice beehive quern stone at the very edge of the trench. As so often, it was deliberately (probably) damaged so it could not be re-used – in this case, by a section of the base having been removed.
Don supervising the workers (Photo by J. Lunnon)

While most of the diggers enjoyed the sweaty shelter of the polytunnel, hardy veterans Hugh and Phil were set to work through the drizzle and rain, on tidying up the older parts of the trench outside the tunnel.
Finds Team   (Photo by J. Lunnon)

Jane Lunnon

Thursday, 7 July 2011

3. Tuesday - July 5th

Now established down in Kettlewell was ‘the base camp’ at Ghyll Cottage, so this allowed two of the students to start work examining the soil samples taken the previous day.
On site the last small area of de-turfing was rapidly completed and the excavators were occupied, trowel in hand, carefully cleaning the top soil to reveal what lay underneath – a process that kept the Finds Team active with a steady flow of small finds, animal bone, ceramic finds, pipe stem and even fragments of coloured glass.
Roger demanded that everyone earned their luncheon by carefully moving the poly-tunnel framework upslope from the grassed area and over the now exposed section, ready for whatever the elements may hold in store. 
 “By the centre, lift and wait for it… carefully and together… move forward…” (photo by Phil Carroll)
Having pulled the huge sheet of visqueen over the hoops and fastened it securely a well-earned lunch was declared for all.
Excavation operations for those on site could now start in earnest and the tasks of removing further top soil and the loose small stones continued as Roger had predicted, the weather turned increasingly inclement.
Dark banks of cloud blew in from the west and the site was treated to a number of short sharp showers – a pattern of weather, which once more demonstrated how varied the conditions could be in such a small area of Upper Wharfedale.
Whilst it rained over Grassington, it held off at Chapel House Wood and vice versa – soon the poly-tunnel began to earn its keep and the approval of those digging – work progressed so well that a halt was called half an hour earlier that usual.
“Under the welcome shelter of the poly-tunnel excavation continues…” (photo by Phil Carroll)
Phil & Pat Carroll

2. Monday - July 4th

Independence Day for our lone American this year, Michelle, a very hardy annual, and a day planned to widen the field of archaeological experiences and techniques.
In the heat of yet another beautiful day, the group of students worked within the potential hammer scale grids and many one-litre soil samples were carefully taken.
Don and the undergraduates took care in accurately marking up the co-ordinates of the different bags and then Don, always one for a challenge, played an extensive and interesting game of “spot the missing samples”
“Now I wonder, is this actually bag three from row four, or really bag four from row three?”
(photo by Phil Carroll)
Once the sampling was completed, the attention of the students was directed to de-turf an eastern extension to ‘DF’ – an exercise that all but squared off this side of the excavation area – hard work with tough grass and high temperatures - but even so, they made a very neat job of it.
Despite the prevailing blue sky, light breeze and clear views, the threat of an oncoming weather change hung in the air and spurred on by two pessimistic weather forecasts from local radio stations, Roger decided to prepare for the worse.
Inspired by the members of Finds Team constructing the dry sieve frame the previous day, they were challenged by Roger to put together the supporting structure for the ‘poly-tunnel’ – the six-metre long shelter against the elements.
Having spent a considerable time finding all the required steel sections, these were placed in the correct order alongside the lower edge of site ‘DF’.
“A strange skeletal shape, looking like the rib cage of huge starved creature, slowly came together” (photo by Phil Carroll)
Once set out, the sections were interconnected and the grand erection ceremony followed – lots of laughter and some slight trepidation as everyone chose a leg and the tall bowed arches rose above the site.
Fortunately, the weather held and most de-turfing was completed without the need for any polythene sheet protection and during this phase, the first few finds were uncovered.
Phil & Pat Carroll