Voyages to the House of Diversion 
Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern Science

February 2018 - Opening it all up

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Once  the clearing up was done and February underway with additional help from returning volunteers we made what may turn out to be one of the big breakthroughs in the search for the House of Diversion. The small extension northwards from the north east corner revealed a huge depth of clean silt, getting on for 60cm but following the sloping bank downwards eventually took us onto a deposit of large packed stones filling the bottom of the ditch. The question is, of course, are they dumped or laid?

Feb    Feb

On Tuesday Peter checks for the presence of metalwork before resuming along with Ian the work to define the edge of the circular ditch.

Feb     Feb

Whilst on Thursday Ian and Helen resume the search whilst I hammer away at the extension with a spade...


... revealing this deposit of highly significant stone, actually it's looking laid to me, and a nice large piece of early wine bottle lying on top of it all too.

The area at the bottom of the ditch was becoming quite cramped so the decision was taken to extend the excavated area at this point by 2 metres further east which means a lot of earth to shift.

Feb     Feb
Peter lends a hand with the de-turfing and here is the new area cleared by the end of play

Feb     Feb
During the course of opening up the new area this piece of terracotta was found in the subsoil, possibly from the acanthus leaf moulding on a Corinthian capital as above or perhaps an urn
 or planter of similar form. Whatever the case it's quite exciting as it's some of the first evidence of sophisticated gardening going on.

Feb     Feb
Ian and Helen make a start of cleaning the newly extended debris field whilst Andries helps out with shoveling away the fairly undistinguished ditch fill until...

Feb     FEb   
...we come down onto another pretty extensive spread of rubble.    By the end of Thursday we had removed all the upper level of silting in the ditch and cleaned it up....

... ready for photography.


In the upper levels of the debris field were further examples of terracotta, some clearly from plant pots but others that may be from garden sculptures or architectural detailing

With so many finds turning up the need for a find store has become quite pressing so it was decided to order a couple of plastic sheds and a selection of stackable plastic storage crates to equip it with. All that has to be done is to put them all together.

A dream of sheds to come,

Crates all ready to go.


One of the perennial pleasures of working at Hanwell is watching the seasons turn and enjoying the marvelous environment. Can anyone spot the lonely swan?

... and then came ....



... and that was it until March.