On Monday the 22nd of November we – members of the Chiseldon Local History Society, staff from the British Museum and from Wessex Archaeology – met up in a farmer’s field in Chiseldon. Grey skies and cold, damp, winter weather greeted our party as we got ready to do some field walking on the site of the Chiseldon Cauldrons.
I had the wonderful opportunity to meet some of the Chiseldon Local History Group that I had not met before. I also met two ladies from the local community, out for a stroll, who remembered watching the excavation. They used a bedroom window to keep an eye on the site when work wasn’t going on to make sure that the site wasn’t disturbed. Members of the local history group who had been involved in the excavation got the opportunity to catch up with Alex Baldwin and Jamie Hood. Alex and Jamie are the British Museum conservators who are working on the cauldrons, and the last time Alex spoke with the volunteers was when the cauldrons were excavated. Though we were cold it was good to have a little time to catch up.
By the time the grid was set up we were desperate to get started – and get moving to fend off the cold. We worked in pairs collecting finds from within grid squares that were set out in the field. The purpose of the field walking was to answer a question: was there an Iron Age settlement where the cauldrons were buried? Hopefully the finds that we collected throughout the day will help to answer that question.
Among the finds was a small piece of bronze that led to a lot of joking about more cauldrons being buried in the field. As exciting as more cauldrons would be, it was decided that this would not be the most welcome find. It will take Alex and Jamie over a year to conserve the 12 cauldrons that have already been excavated. A quern stone was also found in the field along with an assortment of pottery.
To our surprise by lunch time we had finished walking one hectare. After lunch we set out a second grid and continued to work. We managed to walk almost two hectares of the field in one day, before everyone decided it was time to head home, or off to somewhere warm. It was definitely a successful day, and hopefully when the finds are washed and examined we will be closer to answering our questions about the site of the Chiseldon Cauldrons.