Today was the first day of Wessex Archaeology’s 2007 training dig. The morning dawned overcast with dark clouds amassing in the west as our fifteen volunteers made their way to Down Farm in Dorset. The farm, owned by keen archaeologist Martin Green, has been our venue for the past four years and this year we hope to continue work in areas started in 2006.
We began with introductions and a safety briefing from Wessex Archaeology’s Chris Ellis, who is running this year’s dig, after which Martin led the team on a short tour of the farm, familiarising us with the landscape and history of the area we’re working in. We then went to Martin’s museum to look at the type of things we are hoping to find. The majority of the finds in the museum have been found at Down Farm and include a stone slab with Neolithic engravings, a large and varied collection of worked flint and a human skeleton!
By the afternoon the morning’s clouds had dispersed and we walked up to the site for the first time. Over the past year the chalk has weathered and the features that we saw in 2006 have been obscured by the eroded material. We can’t dig what we can’t see so it was out with the hoes, trowels, shovels and brooms to clear the site and reveal the features. It was tough work, especially with the sun blazing down, but within a short space of time the team had cleared most of the site.
This revealed post holes – lots and lots of postholes! Some big ones, some small ones, some which seem to form a line, some with packing stones visible in the fill and some which appear to form four and six-post structures on the ground.
Towards the end of the day one group of volunteers uncovered an ‘amorphous feature’… which is a nice way of saying blob, that could be a quarry hollow similar to those seen here in previous years, or could be something else entirely.
Only excavation will tell!