Day 4: Digging in the be(a)ch

Work on site continued apace today, with the main development being that a further trench was opened by Leanne and Graham, bringing the total number of trenches to four.

Back in trench A, the most significant developments were the identification of the ditch cut at the northern end of the trench, together with a band of ‘cobbly’ stones which may represent the core of something like a bank. Things were looking decidedly more modern over in Trench B where a number of crisp packets gave a likely 1970s date to the 1m by 1m test pit which this trench half sections. We are led to believe that the test pit may have been part of a school geography project, perhaps the people who dug it are still around to tell us more? It is hoped to expand Trench C southwards tomorrow, so today involved ensuring everything done so far was correctly drawn, recorded and photographed. In Trench D, our first foray onto the north side of the hill, great progress was made and theories have begun to develop, however, it will take a bit more excavation before we are able  to tell if this area shares the same characteristics as are apparent in trenches A, B and C.

Meanwhile, geophysical survey continued over a flattish spur just above trenches A and B. This area was slightly easier to work in than the north eastern slopes but the patented ‘human peg’ system was again deployed to great effect. The survey results were interesting – the responses that caught our eye being mainly negative which is unusual. While Pete crawled about under a bush with a tape measure and I tried not to walk into a tree, Christine, Jo and Chris carried on with the metric survey, transferring the datum down to Trench C and picking up survey points as required. This is a really crucial aspect of any archaeological excavation because it is our only means of locating our excavation and survey within the real world.

Between all of that, Michael and Christine found time to undertake some coring around trenches A and B. The results were somewhat sandy…

Tomorrow sees more excavation, more geophysics and undoubtedly a few surprises…

Volunteer Peter Metcalfe: experiences of geophysics


Hi, my name is Peter Metcalfe and prior to this week, I had no experience at all in field archaeology. I’ve come along with my other half Mary, who’s contributing her geophysics expertise to the Dig. I’m helping out with the surveying and in the process finding out what Mary once did for a living and what made the thesis she’s just handed in quite so thick!

Along with Cristine and volunteers Chris, Jo, Paul and Angie, we have been undertaking magnetic surveys on the NE and SW flanks of the hill. The first area is adjacent to some grids carried out by Christine and Leif in 2016. This is above the 19th century paths overlain on the ditch features on this side of the Hill, and encompasses some interesting topography that suggests earlier human activity. The composite grid showed coherent circular anomalies close to the summit plateau that certainly merit further investigation. The environment was challenging to survey, featuring deep leaf litter, holly bushes, brash, steep slippery slopes and numerous fallen tree trunks. These, given some persuasion, made their way downslope out of the way of the grid.

The second area is flatter ground immediately above the excavation pits A & B. This was more straightforward to cover but showed a “quieter” response to the first. However, there were some “negative” anomalies that could be of interest.

During rest periods we have set up a test grid on the flat area between the marquee and Tower in order to give me and other volunteers the opportunity to try out the equipment and undertake a survey. It has been very interesting to see how this type of survey is conducted, to contribute to the project and to gain an appreciation of the difficulties in collecting data in challenging environments.



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