Day three and we’re making good progress in both of our trenches.
Trench 4 is new this year, which we’ve positioned between the paired standing stones of the West Kennet Avenue itself. That’s the trench that Ros unearthed the beautiful British Oblique arrowhead in yesterday.
Trench 3 is one that aficionados of the Between the Monuments Project may recognise as the first one that we opened when we started digging on the site in 2013. This time round we’ve reopened a small part of Trench 3 and extended it to try to help us make sense of a collection of stakeholes that we found in its north-west corner the first time round.
What you may well ask is a stakehole and why are we so excited by them that we’ve come back to shovel more dirt in the same area? Well a stakehole is the hole that’s created by driving the end of a wooden stake into the ground (as opposed to a posthole which is a hole dug to receive a post which is then packed around with stones and soil to keep it upright – today we’d use concrete).
One of the things we noticed when we looked at the results from our excavations in Trench 3 in 2013 was that the area within the stakeholes was virtually free from finds. In contrast the area outside the stakeholes was densely packed with stone tools and pottery.
That set some bells ringing because in 2007 we’d excavted part of a small field called Rough Leaze just outside of the south east bank of Avebury henge. It produced Middle Neolithic Peterborough Ware pottery (the type of pot we’ve found at our West Kennet Avenue site), flint tools and arcs of stakeholes. Infuriatingly, like the ones in Trench 3, they also disappeared off into the side of the trench. Rule 1 of archaeology if you find anything interesting it will always disappear a) beneath the section edge or b) be beneath the spoil heap.
And that combination of the remains of a fairly lightweight structure and with a ‘clean’ interior is exactly what you might expect to find if you were looking for a Middle Neolithic house. And they’re as rare as a rare thing on a rare day. So we’re keeping all of our toes and fingers crossed. Though that does make trowelling awkward.