As spring advanced our attention
really started to focus at Hanwell on the Second Sluice and the
adjacent terraces and ponds. Having completed the earthwork survey last
month and tidied up the excavation opened in 2013 it was time to really
get to grips with the area formerly known as the Second Fishpond but
now bearing the name the Moated Area. Once the gazebo was in place to
act as base camp and refuge we began by surveying the curious miniature
ridge and furrow that marked some of the central platform and then
undertook some coring in key locations. What we found was primarily
redeposited clay but the central mound seemed to be of a different
composition with fragments of tile and brick down to a depth of around
Later in the month we were down in Enstone and conditions were
pretty well perfect. We were able to complete the drawing and recording
of the two trenches on the upper terrace and whilst that was underway
lay out a new area at the bottom end of the ramp where we met initial
traces of walling last time. An area of 6 metres by 3 metres should
give us enough to go on in order to decide what kind of function this
transverse wall carried out: terracing, balustrade or steps, as well as
explore its relationship with the long wall running down the slope. We
also had an extraordinary visit from a local; resident who showed us
the best collection of local flints I've ever sen outside of a museum!
This inspired us to devote a little time one afternoon to field walking
on the area that has been ploughed following the removal of the
Leylandii and we came up with... nothing. Well nothing except some
modern china and a single small abraded fragment of Roman grey ware.
It's extraordinary how clean the field north of the barn is.
Base camp established, it's all looking very green.
Coring underway, we got down to a depth of around a metre but it was hard work.
We're always interested in the local wild life. I thought Daddy Long
Legs only appeared in the autumn but Peter assures me that this is the
found mainly in woodland and known as Tipula maxima
We were also able to begin
again on serious excavation of the site of the Second Sluice which
involved starting to remove a nondescript spread of rubble, probably
debris from Christopher's quarrying operations.
Underneath this in the corner between our two main walls was a very
nice deposit of post-medieval pottery and another corner on a slightly
different alignment. All very intriguing.
The pottery spread tucked into the corner and spread out after lifting.
The week beginning Monday 14th. saw the start of a concerted
effort at Hanwell to progress work down on the moated area. this
involved opening up a new area, HANE14, a 6 by 2 metre trench aligned
east-west across the eastern edge of the moated platform. We began by
stripping off the minimum depth of turf and topsoil on the basis that
there could be ephemeral garden features quite close to the surface. Our
coring activities had revealed little in the way of evidence for what
toady we would call hard landscaping so a start was made to trowel
clean the underlying subsoil and begin the search for the kind of
discolourations and changes in texture that could signal earlier
planting, fence lines or a revetment.
The new area ENA14/C marked out and under excavation, notice the massive anthills courtesy of Lasius flavus
the Yellow Meadow Ant (Thanks Peter).
Early stages but clearly there are structures associated with the end
of the ramp. Still in place on the downhill wall a large lump of
atypical ironstone with a possible socket hole!
Work starts on HANE as Isobel, Sabrina and Samuel leap into action and
later on Verna joins them. In the afternoon Peter, Mike and Viv start
... and at the end of the day Mike wonders if it was really worth it.
Of course we always look after the creature comforts of our volunteers: lunch time on Tuesday.
On the site of the so-called second
sluice we continued to make progress shifting rubble and
gradually unpicking the rather complex ways in which the various walls
came together. As part of this we examined one or two very large stones
scattered around the immediate vicinity. Some of these may have been
left over from the recent construction of the little stone bridge but
one, when we turned it over, had a fine example of the sort of chased
grooving into which lead embedded iron masonry clamps were fitted.
Large scale architectural fragment, I doubt if this will travel far.
Rubble clearing and cleaning underway.
The north-west corner, there's so much happening here, just not sure
Isobel, Sabrina and Samuel work on after the 3.00 p.m. deadline.
With extra help on hand it was a
good opportunity to catch up with some leveling and in particular start
measuring and drawing an extended profile which eventually will
longitudinally bisect the whole valley and enable us to see how
different areas relate in terms of their levels. We started on the top
of the level lawn which lay to the east of the castle and from then on
it was downhill all the way.
Digging isn't everything, the epic transect of the Great East Terrace, teamwork to the fore.
And here is the first part drawn up.
Thursday was fairly quiet but on the Friday we were joined by Kathryn
and her friend Eve, our Amsterdam contingent and so were able to
expose more in the way of stony surfaces. the section over on the edge
of moat was also completely cleaned up revealing.... well one or two
suggestive patches. We'll leave it for a couple of weeks and give it
another scrape. Sometimes quite ephemeral features show up after a