Tag Archives: Josh Pollard

Foot of Avebury Down Dig – Day 1

We’re just coming to the end of Day 1 of our  first full- blown excavation in the Living with Monuments Project which is being directed by Prof. Josh Pollard (Southampton University), Dr Mark Gillings (Leicester University),  Prof. Alistair Pike (Southampton) and Dr Nick Snashall (National Trust) together with Dr. Ben Chan (Southampton), Dr. Ros Cleal (National Trust) and Dr Mike Allen (Allen Environmental Archaeology).  This year the team is based at a the foot of Avebury Down, in an area to the east of Avebury henge, where we will be for the next three weeks.

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Opening up the trenches at Avebury Down ©National Trust/Briony Clifton

The site is in an area where Rev. H.G.O. Kendall and W.E.V. Young began to collect Neolithic flintwork in the 1920s, and where a fantastic, dense scatter of early and middle Neolithic flintwork (c.4000-2900BC) was identified. Though Kendall’s collection is housed in the Alexander Keiller Museum in Avebury the exact location of the scatter remained a mystery until 2006 when  map detective work by Jim Gunter identified its probable location and shortly afterwards on the ground investigations by Josh, Ros and Nick established its exact position.

Today we began excavating this known Neolithic site, starting with the de-turfing of a series of trenches, and already we are revealing some worked flint flakes and cores, so watch this space…

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De-turfing with a view towards Avebury henge and the West Kennet Avenue  ©National Trust/Briony Clifton

Avebury Dig 2014 – Days 14 and 15

We’ve been having some technical difficulties and haven’t been able to post for a couple of days – but the digging has been progressing nicely all the same!

Day 14 (Tuesday) saw lots of visitors : in the morning the dig was open to local residents to visit, and in the afternoon members of the Avebury & Stonehenge Archaeological & Historical Research Group (ASAHRG) and of the Stonehenge & Avebury World Heritage Site Steering committees visited. One of the ASAHRG members even kindly supplied cake, which looked curiously like a certain ancient monument ….

 

 

Silbury Hill in cake form. It was soon totally excavated.

Silbury Hill in cake form. It was soon totally excavated.

Tuesday also saw the appearance of two new artefact types: a medieval coin, not yet fully identified, and a new type of pottery: Fengate Ware.

Two rim sherds of a Fengate Ware vessel

Two rim sherds of a Fengate Ware vessel

Fengate Ware is a type of Peterborough Ware and dates from around 5000 years ago, so is Middle Neolithic and goes with a lot of the other things we’ve been finding. Alexander Keiller found sherds of several vessels in his excavations 80 years ago on the same site. It’s not that common, partly because the pottery is often rather friable and doesn’t survive as well as Mortlake Ware or Ebbsfleet Ware, which are the other types of Peterborough Ware, so it’s really nice to get these sherds. The photograph shows the outside of the vessel, which seems to be decorated with rows of short incised lines, in a sort of herringbone design.

Josh (Pollard) excavating the Fengate Ware.

Josh (Pollard) excavating the Fengate Ware.

At the point when Josh was taking it out of ground we didn’t know what sort of pottery it  was and it was really quite exciting – you can never have too much pottery, I say, as long as it’s Neolithic.

Day 15 (Wednesday) saw more of what is probably the same Fengate Ware vessel come up, and it became obvious that it has some incised decoration on the inside as well as the outside.

Work also continued on a small new trench to the south-east, on the far (eastern) side of the Avenue, but wasn’t very far advanced at the end of the day.

 

View looking south east, showing the new trench in the background.

View looking south east, showing the new trench in the background.

Not long to go now.