This morning dawned bright and sunny as the participants of this year’s training excavation arrived at Down Farm. After a swift cuppa we headed up to the site to continue the cleaning that we began yesterday afternoon. It was an arduous, though highly worthwhile, task and by 10.30 the whole of the area was cleared ready for excavation to begin. Clearly time for another cup of tea!
After a break we began to excavate the site. To begin with we need to do more cleaning to define individual features. Then comes ‘half-sectioning’, which means removing the mud in one half of the feature to leave a vertical face - a section.
The site was eerily quiet and for the first fifteen minutes or so all that could be heard was the industrious scraping of trowels on chalk as our volunteers got to work. Gradually we began to see the shape of the features under excavation and our first finds emerged from the mud. Flint flakes worked by human hands, fragments of red and black pottery and large gnarled pieces of burnt flint were removed from the ground. This is a fantastic start to the dig. The information that we can gain from studying these items, and the features that they came from, will hopefully tell us more about the prehistoric people who lived at Down Farm.
In the afternoon Matt Leivers, one of Wessex Archaeology’s prehistoric pottery specialists, came to give a talk illustrated with real examples of ancient pottery. His visit was well timed as he was able to give a preliminary date for the pottery found this morning, placing it in the middle Iron Age. This means that we are likely to be the first people to see these artefacts for over two thousand years – a humbling experience.
After Matt’s talk we returned to the site to continue the excavation begun this morning and we will report on our findings as they happen.