Time Team Series 20: My First Episode – Day 2

One of the reasons I love archaeology is that so often it reflects life. Now I don’t know about you, but the first 67 years of my life have been fairly chaotic: some plans have gone wrong, other have succeeded, and just one or two have taken off and flown away in completely unexpected directions. In many ways today’s dig has been a bit like that. Yesterday, for example, I was very worried that the first ditch we investigated had turned out to be medieval – on the strength of a tiny fragment of nail found about six inches off the ditch bottom. I just couldn’t believe it and said in an interview (which, thank Heavens we filmed), that the nail could have fallen down a crack in the clay-rich ditch filling during, say, a particularly warm summer. The reason I couldn’t accept that the ditch was medieval was more instinctive than anything else: it just didn’t look or feel like a feature that had been cut in the Middle Ages. No, despite that *** nail, I was certain the ditch was pre-Roman. The trouble was, I knew other people weren’t as convinced as me. It could see it in their eyes: Francis was being pig-headed. Then – oh,  bliss! – one of the sharp-eyed students in the trench found a large piece of Middle Iron Age quern, or corn-grinding, stone lying right on the bottom of the ditch. From then on we called him Captain Quern. The working face of that stone was well-worn through use. So there had to have been family homes close by, probably during the second or even third centuries BC. I’d been vindicated, which is always nice.

Then after lunch, we opened another trench and at first found nothing, then we dug down further and found the entranceway into a special enclosure near the main hillfort entranceway. Again, we thought we’d put the trench in the wrong place. But we hadn’t. Phew! Tomorrow I have high hopes for that trench.

Early on, the rain threatened to wash us to oblivion. But then it abated and we were able to get a full day’s work in. So it was very much like life: two steps forward, and one step back. But not necessarily in that order. What a day…

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