It was day off on the dig today but that doesn’t mean all work stops. Step forward Dr Mike Allen (Allen Environmental Archaeology) and Professor Charly French (Cambridge University). Mike is our guru on all things relating to chalkland soils and land snails and Charly is the expert on using micromorphological techniques to interpret buried landscapes (or our super-guru as Mike describes him.)
Mike has been out augering this morning. You’ll hear more about augering and what it tells us in a later post. So suffice it to say it involves pushing a long metal tube into often very hard ground to learn about the development of soils and map the history of land use.
Charly has taken soil samples from both our Trenches. I’m pleased to say that both he and Mike think preservation is so good that we’re likely to get a really detailed picture of soil development and past land use. That could prove critical for understanding what people were doing here in the Neolithic and Bronze Age (other than building enormous monuments!).
Charly and Mike are also rather fond of our periglacial stripes in Trench 2. These chalk stripes, which formed when areas further north were glaciated, are really well preserved. In fact Charly and Mike have rarely seen their like before on the chalk. What does this mean? Well for a start it means that the area we’re looking at hasn’t been deep-ploughed for centuries. And that’s very good news when it comes to being able to trust the spatial resolution of the finds in this area. We’ve noticed that even the finds that don’t appear to be within features have been popping up in clusters so this will help us work out what activities people were carrying out where here during the Neolithic.