“This dig is important because it brings together a whole group of people. It brings together students, members of the local community. It brings together the elderly generation who lived in the period of history of this building that we are talking about here.
It brings together visitors, children, and both visitors and children from the school but also people who visit the site so we had a lovely family just visit yesterday who were on holiday here and they saw the signs and followed them in and they had a go at sieving and they left really really happy.
It’s that that helps us as archaeologists realise that actually what we do does make a difference and that’s what we are here to do really. So we are not here to just to simply write academic papers and do research in our own university office, but actually to get out and bring archaeology to whole new groups of people. I think that’s what we do and that’s what we enjoy the most really.
And this has been so great as well because we have had – archaeology has spread through the digital media and the newspaper articles and the tv reporter – and we have had people come here who have seen that media and seen what we were doing and they chose to visit and have a chat with us and tell their stories as well. So it’s a whole success story we think.
So in terms of the archaeology itself what we found, I think we have demonstrated that the demolition process was pretty thorough, so there is not so much structural information left in the ground in situ, where it was, it’s been moved around. We know the land has been ploughed afterwards as well, so all of that has created a situation whereby the archaeological signature of these buildings are left by the spreads of demolition and rubble left behind from that removal process.
So we’ve placed our trenches in specific areas to identify where this rubble spread is. And a couple of the test pits that we have done off this rubble spread have been fairly negative for finds actually, so it’s been pretty sterile in those locations and that’s indication to us that actually our theories are correct that if we dig an area up and there proves to be lots of rubble, lots of demolition, lots of structural remains left but messed up, then it’s telling us that we are in the right place for where a building once stood.
So again we wouldn’t have known until we actually came and did the scanning and the excavation work so again it sort of justifies the process really.
So we have had lots of interesting finds. We have had structural finds from the buildings themselves, so these include bricks with the makers’ marks and manufacturers on them so we can trace where the bricks came from which is important, right through to how the building would have looked…so lots of tiles, mirrors, window glass fragments, that sort of thing, drainage. So we know again and we can begin to talk about how the buildings operated and worked.
We think a lot of our main trenches in the rugby field was in the area of the bathroom of the particular house we were looking at because we had a lot of finds associated with that – bathroom tiles, that sort of thing.
So that’s the structural stuff and then we move into more personal objects. These are harder to date because they could be associated with the demolition process, so when these buildings were coming down, the people doing that would have also discarded, thrown things away as well. So for example we’ve got a crisp packet that was buried in one of the trenches.Now that could quite easily have been from the occupation of this building at some point of its history, but equally it could have been discarded by the people who were taking the bricks away when they were demolishing it.
So they are harder to place for time whether it’s to do with the occupants or whether it’s to do with the demolition process later. But we’ve had crisp packets, we’ve had hair curling gel, we’ve had the little plastic unicorn which was the star find of the first week, so that’s a really really interesting story to tell around that one. You can build a whole narrative about that single find if you wanted to so that’s fantastic.
And then some functional items so the key, the key hole that sort of thing again linking what we do now to the experience of the people who lived in that building so a simple thing like a key and a keyhole, they would have used that on a daily basis and here we are finding that in the ground as an archaeological object. It just links us to them in the past – and that’s what we do as archaeologists really.”
Kevin Colls – August 2019