We’re on the countdown now, with only one day of digging left before we backfill the site on Friday. And as ever at the end of any excavation the pace is hotting up.
For most of today we were thronging with visitors. This morning we welcomed Avebury World Heritage Site residents to take a look at where Avebury’s past residents chose to spend their time. And this afternoon we were joined by members of the WHS Steering Committees, the WHS Partnership Panel and the Avebury & Stonehenge Archaeological and Historical Research Group,
Meantime the team are working like Trojans (did Trojans work particularly hard? Maybe a classicist out there could enlighten me). And today was a tale of two holes. In Trench 4 we have Emily’s pit (the one which produced no less than eight chisel arrowheads, three flint scrapers and some Peterborough Ware pottery).
Emily’s pit in Trench 4 has been giving up its secrets
Its clear now that there are two phases to this pit. It’s definitely Middle Neolithic in date – possibly being dug towards the end of the occupation of the site. But then a short while later – still in the Middle Neolithic – someone re-dug the pit. So it obviously continued to have some significance. In the 1930s Keiller found some rather strange features that he initially thought were postholes because they had a dark middle that he thought was the post-pipe (the dark soil where a rotted post once stood) but then he discovered they contained fragments of brushwood (not a good solid timber post). We think now that what he actually found were more pits like this one that were dug and then recut at a later date. So eighty years on mystery solved!
Our other star hole of the day is over in Trench 6. Josh and George have been ploughing down, and down, and down for several days now and have finally just about reached the bottom.
George delving deep into the underworld in the posthole in Trench 6
What we have is an absolute whopper of a posthole. Its getting on for 1.5 metres deep and originally contained a post approaching 0.6 metres in diameter.
George and Josh’s Mega-posthole, with its sarsen packing stones removed
The post it contained is likely originally to have stood something in the region of 6 metres or more tall. It had been packed in place with large sarsen stones (some of which were as much as 0,5 metres wide). Then chalk had been rammed in between the gaps and water added (possibly deliberately) creating a concrete hard mixture that would have ensured the giant timber was going nowhere.
We’ve had a few pieces of charcoal from the interface between post and fill which we’ll be radio-carbon dating in due course. And tantalisingly it produced one incredibly small piece of pottery that from its fabric may just be Grooved Ware (we need to get Ros to cast her expert eyes over it).
If that’s the case it would mean that this is Late Neolithic (it could be later, but not earlier) when we know they had a penchant for creating enormous timber monuments such as the West Kennet Palisade Enclosures.
If you want to see this monster of a posthole for yourself, and checkout the rest of what our team have unearthed you’ll need to hurry. Tomorrow is our last day digging on this site. So pop along and see a once- in-a-lifetime dig that none of us are going to forget in a hurry.