A day-by-day account of the activities of the Rossnaree Archaeological Project 2010-11

Day 17 – The sun is working overtime

The Cutting 7 team in action.

The weather was with us again today. From a calm but overcast start, the day rapidly improved with strong sunshine and high temperatures all day. A few more days like this and we would have a heatwave.

The work continued from yesterday (Monday) with Matt, Lisa, Ciara and Mags all concentrating their efforts on Cutting 7. Although we had (foolishly) thought a while ago that this Cutting was almost finished with nothing of major interest in it, as we have become more familiar with the soils it has gradually become apparent that there are, in fact, quite a number of features. The problem is that the lowest layer of soil in the cutting above the natural, undisturbed soil looks almost identical to the natural itself. The hot dry weather is not helping as it is drying everything out to a uniform pale compact yellow crust.

The second burial.

This process of additional discovery started when Matt went to lift a fragment of cranium which looked at first to be an isolated piece, possibly disturbed from a long-gone burial. When he started to excavate around the fragment, it quickly became clear that it was within a pit containing more bone, and this pit on further investigation, revealed itself to be another grave. As I outlined yesterday, human burials receive the greatest amount of meticulous care and attention when they are being excavated and recorded and thus take some time to deal with. Today, Matt continued to work exposing the ‘new’ grave and we plan to record and lift it tomorrow. Elsewhere in the cutting, a number of suspicious features were identified which might very well be additional grave cuts. We do not plan to disturb or excavate them but will record the extent of each of the cuts and note their positions.

Eimear searches for the edge.
Eimear and Sophie draw the section.

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Over in Cutting 6 Eimear continued to take down the remainder of the section Darren had been working on. Again, there was some close discussion of what actually constituted natural, and the decision was made more difficult because it seems that there was a certain amount of redeposited natural lying directly beside and within the cut of the ditch.  Eventually, after some careful trowelling, and after a flint flake was discovered in the redeposited natural, confirming that it must be redeposited and was not undisturbed, we found the actual edge of the cut of the ditch and the section was prepared for a photograph and drawing.

Fergal and Sophie in Cutting 6.

We had a visit today from Fergal Nevin, an MA student from UCD who is in the middle of writing up his MA thesis at the moment. Fergal had carried out a soil phosphate survey back in May of this year as part of his research and is comparing the results of his survey to the geophysical survey data from the site. He found it very useful to come for the day and observe the archaeology first hand in the area where he had surveyed a few months earlier. We wish him the best of luck finishing his thesis.

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