Mucklestone excavation 2018

Week 1 (April 8th - April 15th)

We were unable to return to the site after the maize had been harvested last year, because this was not done until some time in November, by which time it was too late for us to return. This year, the continuing bad weather did not allow us to return until April! The farmer very helpfully used his tractor to move last year's spoil heap from the south of the oven, so that we could search there for the remains of the house which we feel must be thereabouts. He also moved part of the spoil heap from the west of the site, where we want to investigate the possible continuation of last year's Ditch 5. Unfortunately, due to the wetness of the ground when the spoil was being moved, we start this year with a degree of muddy unevenness. In the photo below, looking towards the south on the first day of this year's dig (8th April), you can see us starting to level where the southern spoil heap had been, ready for us to start trowelling. In the foreground, Keith is doing the same thing at the western end of Ditch 5.

April 8th

Day 1 was quite productive - not only did we find several nice pottery sherds, but two of our members also erected our new tent! Pictures below - click on any one for a larger view.

Pottery selection Day 1 New tent
A selection of Day 1 finds Our new site tent, and its erectors

Here is a close-up of one of the sherds in the selection above - a nice piece of saltglaze stoneware:

Unfortunately, Tuesday was rained off, but we were hard at work trowelling on Thursday and Sunday (picture below). Still in the plough soil (as we will be for several days yet), nothing much on the finds front apart from a few pieces similar to those above.

Sunday 15th April

Week 2 (April 17th - April 22nd)

Tuesday (pic below) saw us still trowelling the plough soil, again with only a few pieces similar to those found last week to keep us encouraged. But we are (slowly) getting nearer to the layer on which the oven sits!

Tuesday 17th April

Subsequent weeks (April 24th - September 18th)

Over this period, we continued trowelling this southern area of the site until we reached "oven level". No obvious features emerged, although there was a layer of firmer soil packed with small stones which could perhaps have been the floor of a barn, or a yard - but there was no convincing sign of where any walls may have been. When we got to that level, finds were few and far between, although on the way there we did continue to find many sherds of pottery dating from the late 17th and early 18th Century - as well as a couple of keys and a piece of lead. Some examples of the finds are pictured later.


Progress during much of this period was very slow, due to the continuing hot and dry weather, which caused us to lose many days. On the days we did work, the ground was very hard. However, eventually the weather became more suitable, and we moved from the southern end of the site to an area E of the oven (which we had covered with spoil to protect it). There, some features emerged: notably what appeard to be an arc of sandstones, and some small clusters of large pebbles which turned out to be covering post holes - and some which did not turn out to be covering anything.


The following photo shows the arc of stones which Dave had been working on.

In this picture we are looking SW. The spoil-covered oven is to the the right (W), and you can also see some small clusters of stones: two beyond the main "arc" in a SW direction, and one just to the right (W) of the N end of the arc. This latter cluster had nothing underneath it. The two further ones had postholes underneath them. Picture later.


Arc of stones

September 27th

Dave has now worked further on the "arc" of stones, to discover that there is a cut around them. The feature turns out to be a long hole filled with quite large pieces of sandstone. In the next picture, looking S, you can see the sandstones in their hole, with Janet beyond working on the postholes.


Sandstones in hole

The next picture is a slightly wider view looking SE, in which you can see another cluster of stones in the foreground, which again had nothing of interest beneath.


Wider view of stones in hole


Our site tent has suffered from the protracted period of hot sunshine in the previous months - the material has got very brittle, and now the wind has destroyed the central area of the roof. Good job it has not rained much!


Poor tent!

 October 2nd

Before removing the stones from their hole to see what lies beneath, Dave photographs them through his ingenious folding drawing grid. Looking S.


Stones through grid

Meanwhile Janet and Colin have been working on and around the two post holes, to reveal a third one. Looking E.


A third posthole emerges

 October 4th -7th

We have now removed all the sandstones from their hole, to reveal what lay beneath. Nothing. This final picture of the excavation shows the three postholes in the foreground, with the now empty long hole beyond (looking northwards). We do not yet have a satisfactory explanation of any of these features. Perhaps when Winston has updated his site plan we may be able to see how they relate to the rest of  the site.


Post holes and sandstone-less depression

On the final day, we lunched outside what was left of the tent, and then we "dismantled" it.


Final day lunch with Dave Final day lunch with Joan and Keith


Goodbye tent

 A selection of finds

Here are pictures of some more of the finds which we encountered during the dig. Click on any one for a closer view.

Tyg 1 Tyg 2
17th C black glazed cup - a tyg? Another possible 17th C tyg
Midland Purple Rim Midland Purple Rim 2
17th C Midland Purple rim and handle Another late 17th C Midland Purple rim
Slipware dish Key
Late 17th/early 18th C slipware dish A key
Piece of key Lead
Part of another key Lead


Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society,3rd November 2018

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