Avebury Dig 2015 Day 8

Well what a day. Yesterday our team got drenched, retreated to wash finds at basecamp and then a brave and hearty crew of volunteers sallied forth into the trenches for a little late afternoon topsoil removal.

They worked through some pretty atrocious conditions. But boy have they had their rewards today. Flints scrapers, chisel arrowheads and nicely worked flint saws have been popping up with astonishing regularity.

There’s so much waste material from producing flint tools that it gets a bit repetitive after a while ( I never thought I’d say that…). Although one curious thing is that there are remarkably few flint cores, except for discoidal cores which are probably used for producing the chisel arrowheads.

But we’ve had two star finds today. The warm up act is one that will please Ros when she sees it. This afternoon we found the rim of what we’re pretty certain is a piece of Middle Neolithic Fengate Ware pottery (we’ll know for sure when Ros has passed her eagle eye over it). Those of you with a keen memory will recall we had some Fengate Ware rim from Trench 1 last year.

Fengate Ware Rim from Trench 4

Fengate Ware Rim from Trench 4

Now the Fengate Ware is very nice and all, but the star find par excellence – not just of today but of our entire dig so far – beats it hands down. We were all trowelling away happily when Josh suddenly whooped, then made a wailing sound, followed  by a good thirty seconds of hysterial laughter – which isn’t normal even for Josh.

There was a long pause, before he announced he’d found a large part of a polished stone macehead. Josh, Mark and I are well on our way to our century if you tot up our digging experience and have spent a good part of our lives digging on Neolithic sites – but none of us have ever found one of these beauties before.

Our beautiful polished stone macehead found by Josh in Trench 4

Our beautiful polished stone macehead found by Josh in Trench 4

This one is incredibly highly polished. It would originally have been mounted on a wooden shaft and we might best think of it as a sort of sceptre. In all probability it  performed a ceremonial role. Its shaft-hole was created by working from one end, using a bow drill and an abrasive material (most likely sand) and again the polish on the interior of the shaft hole is exceptionally high.

The shaft-hole through our macehead. It was worked from the top down using a bow-drill and sand

The shaft-hole through our macehead. It was worked from the top down using a bow-drill and sand

These mace-heads are incredibly rare, and ours is a very fine example. So if we can top that it would  be astonishishing. Roll on day 9!

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About Dr Nick

Dr Nick Snashall is Archaeologist for Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. She is fascinated by prehistoric stones, large and small, and their potential for unlocking the secrets of our past. Nick is co-director of Living with Monuments (an AHRC funded research project aiming to address our lack of knowledge of Neolithic settlement and non-monumental activity through targetted fieldwork and archival research into the Avebury region) and Ground -Truthing Stonehenge’s ‘Superhenge’: excavations at Durrington Walls (Current Archaeology's 2017 Research Project of the Year)

One thought on “Avebury Dig 2015 Day 8

  1. Pingback: Avebury Dig 2015 Day 10 | FragmeNTs

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