We were glad the weather was good today as Steve Shearn, a friend of mine and professional cameraman turned up and took some lovely aerial shots of the site using one of his drones. It’s always good to have a view from above and the ditches that surround the church show up amazingly well as green marks in somewhat parched grass. A definite improvement over the rickety photographic towers I remember from digs in the 80’s.
In the church itself we found the inner face of the northern wall (we found the southern one yesterday) and found that both walls are of almost exactly the same thickness, the reason that the north wall had appeared thicker being caused by a tumble of flints. We also finally got the trench across the interior of the building down to a uniform level, a sort of rough ‘cobbled’ surface of small flints that we had first seen yesterday. Still no sign of what could be taken for a decent floor and the added complication that we seem to have prehistoric pottery and burnt flint at this level. I started fantasising about the church having been built on the site of a prehistoric barrow but was told to be quiet… The deposits in the interior are very strange, a deep soily gravel overlies the ‘cobbles’ but is cut through parallel to both walls with liner features (running parallel with the walls) filled with very compact chalk and flints. There has been much debate about the nature of the soily gravely and whether the flint and mortar walls were built in trenches cut through it or it built up gradually against the walls. Not resolved yet. But what is certain is that when it was at quite a high level a grave was cut down through it and down through the underlying ‘cobbles’. As it’s inside the church it may be someone of comparative importance, but its investigation is going to have to wait until next year.
Alan continued to investigate a small trench outside the north wall and showed, by careful cleaning, that the bones that he found yesterday were part of a complete skeleton and that it definitely does lie underneath the flint and mortar foundations. It even looks as if the lower course of the wall has been raised slightly to respect the skull of the burial.
On the other side of the church, just outside the southern wall, Francis found evidence of burial, cutting through the ‘cobbles’ which seem to extend beyond the footprint of the church in this direction. Food for thought… we haven’t yet determined whether the southern wall sits on these cobbles. So far we have two left upper legs (femurs) each with the pelvis. The first ones, Sk 182 was chopped through by the grave cut for Sk 185, but they are on exactly the same alignment and the heads of the femurs are level, suggesting an ordered graveyard with burials in neat rows. I also think that it’s significant that their shared alignment is not the same as that of the flint and mortar church. Are they aligned with an earlier structure?
So many new questions – and all at the end of the dig (still lots of cake to finish off). But never mind – it means that we can start next year’s excavation with lots of things to investigate.
I’m not sure what has happened to knocking off time – we only have a few students and supervisors left now, but everyone just seems to stay on for the ‘evening shift’. We didn’t leave until 7.00 this evening – must be enjoying it…