And it was certainly a glorious day today on the banks of the Boyne. A welcome change from the persistent rain of Saturday and the torrential showers of Sunday. Very worrying for the coming week. It was a quiet day on site today because of the departure of three of the team at the end of last week. We are expecting some new blood tomorrow all going well and they will be very welcome.
Today, the main focus was in Trench 1 on the slope of the gravel terrace on the northern side of the site. Having exposed and recorded the surface of archaeological layers by the end of last week, we now took a closer look at the separate components within this surface (see Day 4 blog). We had to determine which layer we should excavate next. There are two banks in Trench 1 and on either side of these banks there appears to be a layer of larger stones in a position that suggests that they may have slipped downwards off the bank itself. This material is likely to be lying on top of the junction between the ditch (fosse) and bank. The ditch, although visible on the surface as a dip in the ground surface, is not open to its full depth because in the years since it was dug various processes have been at work filling it back in again. Rainwater washes clay and soil downslope from the banks which settles in the low ground of the ditch. Sometimes stones roll down the slope into the ditch as well. Animals walking over and back over the banks wear them down and encourage movement of material into the ditches. Very often when sites were lived in, ditches were used as convenient landfill sites so a lot of food and other waste made its way into them. Thus the soils of ditches are often looser than the soils around them, they often are less stony and often have organic domestic waste in them, including charcoal, which makes them different to the soils of other features around them. While we have identified an area where the material is very likely to be ditch fill, we are currently trying to find the extent of this material, i.e., where are the edges. This is tricky because of the large amount of smaller stones in the soils and also because the soils are so similar in colour. However, we are confident that we will resolve this before long. There are still finds including flint and animal bone coming out of the soil we are digging so we know that it is fill; these materials could not have found their way into undisturbed natural soil.
Lots more to be done tomorrow. Hope the rain holds off.