Water lies alongside the
The second sluice fails to hold the water back
The pool in the sunken garden had filled up
Water fills the ditch on the western side of the water parterre.
Significantly the water level returns to something approaching its original position.
As it turned out
Saturday was a lovely day and the waters had receded to a limited
extent, We bussed up around 70 delegates from the garden history
who after an introductory chat from Rowena split into two groups to
take it in turns walking round the archaeology and enjoying the pop-up
museum, tea and home made biscuits and further tour from Rowena and
Christopher of the more recent additions to the garden. Many, many
thanks for their hospitality and to Verna, Peter, Matt and Cat for
helping out on the day. All that and everyone safely back to Oxford
for a 6.30 dinner.
The crowds press forward eagerly to hear Rowena on the early history of
the Copes... the only photo I have of the Rewley House Outing.
excitement of the great visitation was over we began work once again
leaving the lower portions of the site to dry out we extended our
digging to the east to carry on following the line of the wall. This
ultimately lead to the discovery of a corner which clearly marls out
the central island of the water parterre as being polygonal. We will
have to confirm whether the form is hexagonal or octagonal but fitting
it onto the earthwork plan it is hard to make a regular octagon work
know the minimum length of at least one side but a square with the
corners taken off, still an octagon, is workable. Take a look here at
some preliminary thoughts about polygons in gardens and prepare to carry on digging.
Chris and Hannah find some dry ground the work from and as the week
progresses we uncover more and more of the perimeter wall until...
we reach a corner and its looking like a hexagon... or maybe an octagon....
... except a hexagon fits the earthwork profile rather more
neatly.... unless we make our octagon a square with chamfered corners.
... and an added bonus, Peter has kindly agreed to take the finds in hand, what a relief.
As we started
the tackle the removal of the spread of destruction rubble in the moat
to the north we began to come across increasing amounts of decorated
terra-cotta garden ware culminating in the extraordinary find of what
appears to be a complete urn, complete although far from intact. These
are likely to become a major consideration as we excavate this material
over the next few weeks.
Deeply scored decorative garden ware close to the centre of the north side of the octagon, part of P5 as it turned out.
Close to the west end of the north side a plainer pot almost complete
but with some remaining under the section edge, later to be numbered as
As an escape from digging up pots we marked out our potential octagon
on the ground with stripy poles and red tape - it is good for something.
A view looking south east of the complete northern side of the octagon.
Now it gets really exciting, Helen helps clearing the rubble to begin
to reveal the ditch silts below then this a handle and part of the body
of a vessel with foliate decoration, subsequently labeled P3.
And before we could draw breath next to it what appears to be a
complete pot, later known as P2, could it have painted decoration? Put to bed for
The next week pots continued to crop up as we shifted the destruction rubble....
So here is P3... complete but not intact.
... and Rowena and Christopher get to grips with urn numbered P4, here it is in the course of excavation.
So, three urns in a row, P2,3 and 4, there has to be a joke there and a photo of
how to move a very heavy stone out of a very deep trench. It's called
an inclined plane, what a great invention.
The third week of June saw
some solid digging underway thanks to Chris, Hannah and Helen plus
Peter continuing to mastermind the finds department. We were certainly
going to need him as our total number of pots continued to climb with
an additional plain pot (P6) and another decorated urn, although to a
different pattern to the earlier ones (P5). As removal of the
destruction rubble moved into the north west corner we were able to
lift what was evidently a beautifully cut coping stone and reposition
it on the corner from which it had been thrown down. Careful
measurement of the internal angle at 135 degrees was confirmation that
we were likely to be dealing with an octagonal structure. Finally, and
perhaps most exciting of all, a rather uninteresting lump of dull grey
stone when excavated just went on and on and turned into a large
segment of what must have been a shallow stone bowl with a hint of a
central hole bored through it, almost certainly the basin for a small
fountain! As the number of pots grew I started to do some initial research into garden pots of the period.
Helen and Hannah co-operate on the tricky business of cleaning an urn (P4), it seems larger than the previous two.
The beginnings of two further pots, plain old P6 and more elaborate P5 - see above for two other pieces.
The great coping stone as excavated and at the risk of being accused of
anastylosis (look it up, I had to) lifted back into place
although in truth it probably stood a metre or more above its current
A section of stone fountain bowl? You can see part of the small hole towards the top right hand corner.
The last week of June saw a massive
effort to clean everything up so Verna could come and photograph
everything on the final Friday morning before we had to tear ourselves
away to head off to Croft for the next couple of weeks.
A great turn out with Chris, Hannah, Helen and Peter helping with the
great clean up the Ian and Andries get to grip with the next course
down on the octagon.
Pots P2 and P3 cleaned up and awaiting their photograph.