After a gap of three years we returned once more to Barrow Clump, again with the support of Defence Infrastructure Organisation, but this time in mid-Winter rather than mid-Summer! The reason, as before, was further badger damage to Anglo-Saxon graves, in particular those inaccessible (to us) beneath the roots of mature beech trees. Would 2017 live up to the excitement of 2012−14 … and what would it be like for people camping on site during a particularly cold snap at the end of November?
For the first few days we sieved badger spoil – not exciting but necessary − recovering disarticulated human bone as well as a Saxon knife. We then brought in a machine and opened a small area and two evaluation trenches beyond the trees and outside the scheduled area. At first it looked like we might be going home early, but a rapid trowel of the chalk revealed four graves in the excavation area and three more in one of the evaluation trenches, helping define the known extent of the cemetery.
The seven graves contained two adults and five infants/juveniles – one of the latter with a brooch and another with a small pot. A female adult was buried with a pair of copper alloy disc brooches, tweezers, pin and a perforated Roman coin, along with glass and amber beads. However, it was the adult male that stole the show this time – there was a well preserved spearhead, buckle and knife, but the undoubted star find was a beautifully decorated pot in exceptional condition (pictured right), the only such vessel from Barrow Clump and of a type rare in Anglo-Saxon cemeteries in Wiltshire.
It was all over too quickly … another success for Breaking Ground Heritage / Operation Nightingale, not only for the archaeological results but also − and just as important − in bringing together friends from earlier years at the Clump with new participants, all sustained by the camp fire and Dickie Bennett’s catering skills – never have hot dogs tasted so good! So, thank-you everyone who took part, those who provided invaluable support in various ways, and others who brought timely gifts of home-made cakes, warm mince pies and firewood. An excellent result that certainly did live up to the excitement of earlier years – though Winter camping was voted a distant second to Summer camping!