Voyages to the House of Diversion
Seventeenth-Century Water Gardens and the Birth of Modern Science
October 2014 - On into the Autumn
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At Hanwell it began to feel as if the pressure was on; winter
drawing near and we were very aware that we needed to clear the slopes
of the East Terrace in order to let the snowdrops show forth. First,
however, we needed to reorganise our infrastructure. Sounds a little
grand but in effect it meant taking down the big white marquee at last
- we were a little sad to see it go - and relocating the tan gazebo
from the Second Sluice to a corner of the observatory to act as a
temporary finds and equipment shelter. On site Peter continued the task
of drawing the assorted elevations of the uncovered stonework at the
Temple of Flora and similarly on the long section plans and elevations
were drawn plus more digging. Especially interesting was the rubble
filled pit next to the top wall which looked as if it may have been a
post hole possibly to support a timber scaffolding pole for
constructing the wall.
Archaeology at its most ephemeral: the site of the marquee, what will
be left to see in 10 days... 10 weeks... 10 months? You get the idea,
plus the new finds tent
Rubble packed into a pit on the long section, a classic example.
We do have other involvement with the community at Hanwell. Here we are
playing for a harvest supper dance in the church and there's Sir
Anthony's Clock - sadly not working at the moment - in the background.
Back to Enstone
to get things restarted there for the autumn season. Things had got a
little overgrown whilst we had been away but not as bad as I expected,
well nothing that a couple of days weeding and trimming couldn't sort
After a patch of
wet weather the section edges on the long trench at Hanwell had come up
a treat. The parched edges had regained some of their colour to the
point where I just had to photograph the whole thing and indeed create
the option of stitching them all together using careful placement
(every 2 metre section) and leveling of ranging rods. At the same time
Peter was making valiant efforts, not to mention qualifying as a
contortionist, drawing the foundations of the east - west wall at the
Temple of Flora. Christopher had been busying himself with clearing the
intermediate terrace above the sunken garden. It's revealed as a major
construction for which we have no firm dating evidence but I'm
beginning to query its relationship with the walling on the
terrace round the corner. Further digging at the top of the long
section exposed the fact that our pit was not a pit at all but rather a
shallow scoop with plenty of fallen rubble and plaster/mortar embedded
in it It all belongs to the phase of destruction and collapse yet seems
to directly overlie the construction trench for the walling.
What seems to be missing, and this is puzzling, is anything which looks
like a period of use. For example I would have confidently expected a
buried turf line showing up evidence of a former grassy bank at the
foot of the wall subsequently overwhelmed and buried by the actions of
the demolition squad. I'm clearly missing something here.
Section photograph - there are 15 more like this (HANF14 005 from the
south. in case anyone's interested).
Peter does his best Alice impersonation, unfortunately no white rabbits
only brown ones.
Back at Enstone we made a fresh start on the open area on the top
terrace. This involved beginning to remove the upper layers of
stone and soil which created the famous patterns revealed by
geophysics. Underneath it all there seemed to be a fairly
undifferentiated spread of rubble derived from the underlying bed rock.
This seems to suggest that the alignments, whatever they are, were
created by shifting surface rubble from those areas assigned for
cultivation on to the paths or whatever they were. As part of this
rather a nice prehistoric flint blade emerged.