Monday, 23 January 2012

An evaluation

The bread and butter of most archaeologists is the watching brief and evaluation. Many of these are carried out every day and many of them find absolutely nothing. 

I was on an evaluation today for my old boss from Essex, who now runs Arrowhead Archaeology based in Dorset. The site had plenty of potential, as a rich Roman site was situated just down the lane, where literally a shed-load of pottery and features have been unearthed by a small band of amateurs. 

The owner of the site lived here, a late Arts & Crafts type house (c.1930s) and was building a new garage (under PPS5 it is the developer that pays). We dug three trenches where the footing was going to intrude into possible archaeology. For the last three years I have not dug full-time, but being on site once more, especially the smell of the turned soil, made me once again thrill to the possibilities of finding past human activity at this location. 

The soil, for me, reeks of the human past. This is where people have lived, worked and died for thousands of years and when we dig into the soil the smell, sight and feel of it assaults the senses and one is almost giddy with the idea of the living, breathing crowd of humanity that has passed over this spot for millennia. 

The digger breaks the soil.
The result?
Nothing to be found. When one is just making pin pricks in the landscape the chances of finding something can be small. But still, that smell....         

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