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Cox Bank Farm, 2014: Pictorial Dig Diary


This year, we are excavating another area of the burnt mound that we were working on this time (May) last year.  As you can see from last year's dig diary, we found a large trough and a suggestion of a second one. We also found a pottery sherd, which may just be part of a pot used to get hot water out of the trough. We will be investigating the feature which may be a second trough, and hoping to find more pieces of that pot. For a pictorial week-by-week diary of this year's excavation, read on...


The area we are investigating this year is N and a bit W of last year's excavation.


Click on any picture to enlarge it.


Week 1: 4th - 10th May


Not a lot of progress this week, as heavy showers had us frequently diving for cover, and indeed stopped us digging at all on one day (and the first Sunday of the following week). However, we have managed to de-turf the initial area, and we have started trowelling to expose burnt mound material ... and a field drain!


De-turfing The next working day - just coming down onto the stones and ready to trowel Trowelling between the showers


This shows the area after a day's trowelling, looking N You can see the very black burnt mound material on the right (E) side of the field drain down the middle

Week 2: 11th - 17th May

After another day's trowelling we have removed a lot of the burnt mound material (heat shattered stones and black ash) from the right (E) side of the field drain and you can see a long dark feature emerging Not much to see on the W side yet, apart from a circular feature near the centre (just L of the tip of the N-S ranging rod) which is of a very different material



Hard at work (until Dave said "smile!") Angela has sectioned the circular feature you could see in the picture above. When she had completely excavated it, it appeared to be where a plant, maybe a bush, had been removed - you could see where the roots had been

Gradually, the dark feature on the E side of the area starts to take shape... ...can it really be a trough? It seems to be continuing under the NE corner 

Meanwhile, at right angles to the last picture, and going across three parts of the now enlarged area, there is a stony surface. Is it a path, or the edge of a larger surface? A floor?
Hre we are looking from E to W along the S edge of the current trench
Here is the "trough" feature seen from the northern baulk, looking roughly S. It seems to be narrower than we first thought.

Week 3: 18th - 24th May

We've extended to the West - it gets very stony and hard to trowel at the bottom of the plough soil! Meanwhile Keith is trowelling a small extension the other (E) side of the field drain We've extended again, this time northwards. The dark linear feature shows up very clearly now, going off at an angle to the NE

A bit more trowelling and this feature is clearer still. The black fill contains many pieces of charcoal. Compare this picture with the next .... This picture, courtesy of Gwynedd Archaeological Trust, shows a wood-lined trough and a lined channel coming off it, at their excavation of a burnt mound at Porth Neigwyl, North Wales in 2008 This is a view of our feature again, this time looking South

Three views of the site at the
end of the week. Too wet to work, ...
.. but you can see we've started to excavate the S end of the linear feature, which ... ..we thought might have been another trough. Removing the black fill has revealed it to be roughly circular in shape

Week 4: 25th - 31st May

The circular feature after removal of more black fill ...and the very clear linear feature leading from (or to?) it Meanwhile the SW corner is still very stony

Later in the week, we were rained-off again!
Looking south.

Week 5: 1st - 7th June

June 5 June 5
Another wet week. Not a lot of progress made. Here is the W side of the site, looking N showing possibly a dark feature in the middle. Looking S here on the E side, towards the small pit and the linear feature going towards it. Winston is updating his site drawing.
June 5 June 5
Looking E across the N end of the linear feature. There's a hint here that it may divide into two. Another view of the E side, this time looking S. Is there a linear stony feature here running diagonally across the area?

Week 5: 8th - 14th June

June 8 June 10
The team hard at work on the W area. Looking SW. We've cleaned up the linear feature in the E area a bit more, you can perhaps tell how shallow this feature is
June 8 Drone
The dig from above. North to the right. You can clearly see the small pit and the linear feature near it This is Terry's drone, which took the picture on the left
June 10 June 14
Here's the W area, looking SW again. The W area again, a few days later, looking N. I don't know what the sectioned feature is, it seems too shallow to be a post hole

Week 6: 15th - 21st June

June 19 June 19
Now the weather is hot and dry and Winston is wetting the surface to make it trowelable While Terry helps Winston to measure some heights, Joan and Angela are working on a feature near the S baulk of the W area
June 19 June 19
From this aerial view (thanks to Terry and his drone) you can see Angela and Joan (in the blue shirt - see next picture for what she was working on) trowelling at the S end of the W area (Winston is there now, as well). You can also see that we have worked a bit more on the linear feature in the E area, and it now seems to divide in two towards the N baulk The photo above shows the hole that Joan has been working on. This hole seems to be associated with the adjacent field drain. We think the hole may be a test pit dug and backfilled when the drains were laid sometime in the 18thC. Or maybe it was dug to aid removal of a large stone. We have removed the fill and you can see that there appears to be an earlier feature below it.
June 19 June 21
This is the small pit in the E area, with a lot more black fill removed And this is another view of the linear feature running to (or from) the small pit, now clearly splitting in two towards this nearer (N) baulk

Week 7: 22nd - 28th June

June 24
Looking E along the S baulk of the W area, towards the small test pit. There seems to be a linear feature along this baulk, and the stony surface along its L edge seems to slope down into it.

June 24 June 26
Meanwhile, Winston is still removing black fill from the hole (maybe it was used to hold water) and we have removed a little more from the previously linear feature which now looks distinctly curved (in this view) Joan is now removing fill from the feature along the S baulk of the W area. The fill is very silt-like

Week 8 (the final week for this year): 29th June - 3rd July

June 29 June 29
Keith is setting up for Dave to photograph the hole in the E area We have now removed much of the silt from the feature along the S baulk of the W area. Could this have been a channel to feed water into the trough we found last year? 
June 29 June 29
Dave's photo of the hole (a reservoir to collect water from a roof?? from a stream???) The same feature as above, now seen from the S baulk, looking N. We will have to investigate this feature southwards next year!
July 1 July 1
The final picture of the hole just before back-filling. We have removed some of the clay which has flowed over the edge of the hole over time A last view of the site before back-filling

July 3
Back-filling on July 3rd. We didn't do it all by hand - we had help from the farmer with his tractor. Thanks Graham!

Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society, 10th August 2014.