Time Team series 20, My Fifth Episode: Day Two

At last the clouds have lifted and the rain has gone. Farewell Gor-Tex. Late last night Maisie phoned to say the hay at home had been cut and would be turned later today, with baling on Friday and Saturday. That means I’ll be straight onto the tractor (a 1964 McCormick International B414 for those of you into such things) and will lift them all into the barn. Then we’ll open a bottle of something bubbly to celebrate that ‘All is safely gathered in, Ere the winter’s storms begin…’ Maybe I’ll even post a quick blog, if my tired arms will let me.

Today we’ve opened a second site further down the hill. This one has the remains of a water mill and more working floors, although many of these are plainly Victorian, to judge by the sheer quantities and the slightly bluish colour of the waste rocks. But as I’ve been working on these mine sites, I’ve become very interested in how people four hundred years ago managed to move around this very hostile environment. We do it in specially strengthened Land-Rovers, and even then it’s very hard work. Indeed, the local utilities company who run the reservoirs around here, employ a specialist contractor, whose job is simply to remake and rebuild the roads, but without bringing-in any foreign materials, such as crushed granite or tarmac – as that would impair the integrity of this important early industrial landscape. And for once, I agree with officialdom: the road may be bumpy, but at least it looks right and it also tells us what those early miners had to contend with.

While I’ve been down at the new site, I’ve left Phil in charge on top. The day began well with a scene where I told him over the comms that he’d been promoted to Management. You can imagine his reaction!

I think the main discovery we’ve made today is that the site is far from simple. Yes, there’s probably Tudor stuff there, but the later material is far, far more abundant than anyone had previously imagined…

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