Cox Bank Farm, 2013: Pictorial Dig Diary -
updated to the final (for this year) day - 11th July.
Now includes Winston's summing-up of our 2013 dig
- find it here
This year, we have been excavating another area
of the burnt mound
that we were working on this time (May) last year. To
see some pictures, and read what I wrote about that excavation, click
here. For a pictorial week-by-week diary of
this year's excavation, read on...
The area we investigated this year is the SW quadrant
of the mound. It is S and a bit W of last year's excavation.
Click on any picture to enlarge it.
Week 1: 20th - 26th April
|First session of
trowelling, just below the turf
||The next working day -
the stones are just starting to show
||After a bit more
trowelling, this odd feature appears in the middle of the area
|This is a
close-up of the feature that has appeared. It seems to be clay.
excavation of this feature (see pics below), a few small sherds of
creamware ca 1830 were found in it, showing that it is
Week 2: 27th April - 3rd May
|This section of the
feature shows it is made of orange clay, with a layer of brown loam
between it and the original pale yellow clay surface (with its own
||Most of the orange clay
removed (apart for the top R corner) showing more of the underlying
surface. And a black-filled hole in the bottom L. (This "lobe" is at
the top of the picture above)
||Dave filming the section
Week 3: 4th - 10th May
point, Winston wanted to compare stone sizes between different parts
of the area. So we took stones from two small (ca 500cm square)
sections for him to count stones of various sizes. This is one section
||... and this is the
other, in a different part of the area. More detail later, when
Winston has released the results...
Week 4: 11th - 17th May
|As the surface of the
natural clay emerges, we start to see the dark lines similar to those
we saw last year. Some sinuous, some straight.
||Colin has exposed what
appears to be a piece of wood or charcoal in the NE corner of the area
(top RH corner of the previous picture)
Colin's find. Disappointingly, this later turns out to be compressed
ash and charcoal fragments. Shaped by being compressed in a groove?
(of which more later)
been finding a lot of pieces of charcoal, some quite large. Here is a
We sent some of the charcoal from this mound to a lab in New Zealand for carbon
The results are in: 1300 BC ± 46 years.
This is the same date as the mound we excavated in 2006. Download the
report using the link in the Reports section at the bottom of this
we found this large piece of flint, which Dave has photographed so
that you can see it from all four sides. You can see what appears to
be wear on one face.
be an ard point? (An ard was a light plough. Having no board to turn
the soil, it was used in lines one way, then again at right angles to
break up the soil)
lines in the top of the natural clay layer are intruiging. Some
experts say they are made by an ard (plough lines), some sceptics say
they are animal burrows or mole runs. Maybe we have both here - ard
lines would be straight and crossing at right angles (roughly), animal
runs more likely to be sinuous. We need to investigate further.
Week 5: 18th - 24th May
|Looking N. You can see
two small sections cut across some of the interesting lines. The
furthest one (E of the top ranging rod) is pictured next. The nearer
one (at the S tip of the N-S ranging rod) is pictured to the right of
||So, here is the
northmost of the two sections, cut across a straight dark line. It has
a V-shaped section, suggesting it is an ard mark (plough line)...
||...whereas this one,
nearest to us in the leftmost picture, appears to have a rounded cross
section, suggesting it was made by an animal burrowing under the burnt
In the leftmost of the three pictures above, you
can see we've made a start on a northerly extension. This week we deturfed
it, and at the time this picture was takem, we were starting to hit
heat-shattered stones - very hard trowelling!
Week 6: 25th - 31st May
We did not manage to do much work on site this
week as the weather was so wet, but Winston did take the opportunity to
mark up the picture representing the results of our magnetometry survey,
to show the areas we have excavated so far (areas A and C which you can
see in the lefthand picture above, looking north across area A to area C).
He also marked out another area beyond area C, which will be area D.
He matched the scale of the resistivity
survey view to that of the magnetometry survey, and the middle picture
below shows the resistivity result in place of the magnetometry of the
mound area. Also shown is the area we excavated in 2012.
Click on any of the pictures to expand it.
|This picture shows the
magnetometry results and the excavation areas in outline only.
||Here the resistivity
results replace the magnetometry over the excavation areas only.
||And this one has the
excavation areas labelled
Week 7: 1st - 7th June
|Working in Area C. This
view is looking roughly S - you can see Area A in the top LH corner of
||Area C later the same
day, looking the other way, roughly northwards where you can see us
working in Area D
||Later, Area C looking
towards the S. Some features are emerging. The nearest one (R of the
board) is filled with plough soil, the large feature S of it with
burnt mound material.
In Area D, Winston found this small worked flint
- a borer or a piercer?
We now believe this to be the broken barb of a
bronze age arrow head.
Week 8: 8th - 14th June
Area D has some almost circular festures filled with plough soil.
Here's a close-up of one of them, you can see it in context in the
next picture, which shows the whole of Area D
||(Area C is
off to the right). Subsequent excavation revealed these features to be
shallow, possibly stone holes - post pads??? You can also see some of
the original clay surface (bottom R), similar to that in Area A.
|Colin is removing part
of the baulk between Areas A and C. Somewhere just in front of him
and to his left, the
clay surface of Area A (behind him) stops, giving way to a fill of
black burnt mound material in Area C...
||...but the clay surface
continues to Colin's right (on the left of this photo, looking S)
Week 9: 15th - 21st June
|We have sectioned the
feature which lies just in front of where Colin was trowelling in the
picture above this one. The horizontal ranging rod lies parallel to,
and just in front of the top of the section.
||Seen from the other
side, so we are now looking W. From this vantage point, it looks as if
the feature runs up to the right i.e. roughly NW-wards.
||This view is from the
top of the spoil heap S of Area A, looking N across Areas A, C and D.
You can see the feature in Area C, which we think may be the trough.
|Although it may look as
if Winston is praying to whoever the god of archaeology may be ...
||He's actually showing us
how high we need to hold the sheets to cast a large enough shadow that
Dave can get a clear photo of the feature!
Here's Dave's picture showing the excavation of the
feature so far.
is holding the staff for Winston to measure the heights around and in
the feature using the dumpy level.
|The main feature in Area
C after a little more work. We have retained the section on the right.
For the time being, we are also retaining a small baulk between the
nearer part of the feature and the part beyond (northwards).
||Clearly the feature
extends below the the undug NW corner of Area C, and here you can see
that we have now almost completely removed it.
At this point we had a week off. Resuming on
the 29th June, we started to trowel down the still slightly raised NW
corner of Area C, intending to investigate what happens to the "trough"
feature under that corner. Do we have a small trough with
water supply channels to/from it (one of which may lead under
that NW corner), or do we have just one large trough (with water channels
in/out which we haven't seen yet)? Or maybe it is not a trough at
Week 10: 29th June - 5th July
The area being trowelled here is that NW corner of Area C, which seems
to be a working surface - a floor? Marlene (in pink, nearest the
camera) found this piece of pottery amongst the stones of this
As you can see from these photographs, this sherd has a very course
texture with many inclusions, and it is surprisingly large. We
understand that only tiny fragments of pottery, if any, have been
found on other burnt mound sites. That is, apart from cremation urns,
and this does not appear to be a piece of one of those.
Winston found this small flint in the same surface.
Is it a small scraper?
|Meanwhile, we have reached
what appears to be the bottom of the trough, with sandy silt between
the stones. We have removed most of the black fill (the sides still
need some attention in that respect). We are leaving a baulk between
this part of the feature and that beyond so that we can photograph the
|The trough as described
previously, with the baulk separating it from ... more of the trough!
The stony surface has been largely removed to reveal more of the
trough beneath it. Look at the very top of the picture, where Janet is
cutting a section through the "floor" surface - what is that dark
patch she has revealed at the base of the baulk? (see later)
have now removed the stones from the bottom of the nearer part of the
trough. The further part is continuing to take shape, suggesting that
what we have here is one large trough
|Looking back at the southern
end of the southern part of the trough: in removing black fill from
the clay sides, we reveal what appear to be signs of timber revetting
- no wood remains were found, however - only the shape. The enlarged
corners of the trough (giving the whole a suggestion of fishtail ends)
suggest there may originally have been wooden corner posts to hold the
revetting in place.
|We have extended the
area slightly northwards so that Janet can investigate the dark
feature under the northern baulk. Dave meanwhile is photographing the
||This is what Janet has
been excavating. It seems to be more than just a post hole - could it
possibly be the corner of another trough? We'll have to find out next
||This is the northern end
of the whole trough, again showing the enlarged corners that may have
held posts to support revetting
Week 11: 6th - 11th July (the final week for this year)
Before we close the site for this year, here
first are some pictures of the entire trough, with the fill removed as far
as possible to reveal the sides cut into the natural clay. Then some
pictures taken during backfilling on the final two days, 9th and 11th July.
We would have finished the job in one day if it hadn't been so hot (mid to
high 20's Centigrade)!
|This is looking NW,
showing Janet's intriguing feature beyond. We will have to wait until
next year to find out what this is
||This is looking in the
opposite direction, towards the SE
|This is taken from the W
baulk. You can see a horizontal line running from end to end which may
indicate a wooden floor laid end-to-end?
||This is the NW end of
the trough, clearly showing where we think two of the corner posts to
support wooden sides may have been
||...and this is another
the W baulk. Again you can see the end-to-end line of maybe the
central timber of a possible
And finally -
|We had more than a
little help from the farmer with his tractor & bucket - Thanks,
||Dave putting on the
|The final day team
||You'd hardly know we'd
I'll post reports here as they become available. First, below is the
report on the radio-carbon dating of the charcoal we found here last year.
Click on this link to download the
report on the charcoal, as a pdf file.
read Dig Director Winston's interim
of the 2013 dig in this report (in pdf format), in which he discusses
what we have discovered about this site and how this fits with current
knowledge and theories concerning the purpose of burnt mounds in England.
Most of the finds and features he mentions are pictured above.
In conclusion, he adds the hope that we will be
able to return next year to carry out further geophysics surveying and
excavation in pursuit of more information concerning possible bronze age
occupation in the vicinity of the mound. And of course to investigate the
late-discovered feature that may be a second trough .... or may not!