With the completion of Tong House B (Jon and Debbie Waddington finished backfilling this afternoon), all our efforts are now concentrated at Long House Close.
First (and only) find of the day went to June Craghill – an apt name given our location – who’s eagle eye picked out an iron nail from amongst the bracken rhisomes. John, the metal detectorist, managed only to add to his hoard of two pence coins scattered over the site at the end of the dig last year.
Now that most of the medieval remains found on the site have been investigated, most of our energies have been put into trying to discover what we can about the Bronze Age deposits and features. We are currently entertain the idea that these, perhaps, comprise some form of ceremonial monument. To this end we extended the dig area to the east, seen in the picture being eagerly troweled by John, Milly and Lesley.
Helen, meanwhile, started to excavate and part of the core of large outer walls, where earlier in Peter Mathieson discoverd a sherd of pottery. Here we hope to recover some charcoal so we can once and for all find out the date of these enigmatic features. She was joined in the same task by Melanie who was undertaking the same job on the opposite side.
Barbara and Chris did sterling work uncovering some last year’s excavation. We need to reexamine parts of the site to aid our understanding of more recent discoveries. Lastly, but by no means least, Bob quietly cleaned and beautified more of the stone surfaces that extend either side of the the areas we excavated last year.
A day of consolidation, rather than a day of discovery.
Today our digging team of ten was joined by Chris Shearin from Kendal. She had missed out on the dig in 2017 but she had been with us in year 1 when we had carried out the archaeological excavation at Tongue House A.
Following a full up-date on progress by OAN we were all allotted our various tasks and work stations for the day at Longhouse Close. The weather was set fair and our work was unhindered by the elements.
This was the day when the site was “officially” open to the public. Three organized walking parties – guided up by DVLHG members – toured the site following an introductory presentation by Stephe Cove at the Seathwaite Parish Room. Jeremy gave a full briefing of the changing perspective of the site following this year’s excavations so far. One clear possibility is that the site may have been a bronze age ring cairn which was used as a base and then “recycled” in the late medieval period into a shieling for the use of a cowherd and possibly a dairymaid in summer months when animals could be grazed higher up in the fells leaving the valley free for arable farming.
In addition to the organized tours we were visited by ten other “random” passers-by who were in the area. They included a Liverpudlian guiding two Spanish ladies engaged on a Duke of Edinburgh award scheme, a Yorkshire family from Hellifield and two Australian holidaymakers. A common theme from them all was that they had learned about the archaeological dig and the open day from the owners of the Newfield Public House.
Our thanks go to Gail & John Batten for inspiring so much interest.
Altogether we had 34 visitors through the Open Day presentations. They came from as far away as Sussex, Cambridge, County Durham and Newcastle and as close as High Moss and Beck House, the last two houses between Turner Hall Camp Site and the gate leading to the bottom of the Walna Scar track.
One has succumbed to an invitation to dig and will be with us on Monday before she has a change of mind! I couldn’t convince any of them to come along next Sunday and help put all the rocks and earth back in the trenches with us. There are lots of spaces if any of our readers fancy coming along to help.
It was interesting to have a group from Ennerdale Village who are involved in the Wild Ennerdale project and were following up my talk at the Keswick Archaeological Conference. I have been booked to give a talk about the project to their group in Lamplugh later in the autumn. It is a good chance to spread the word about how local projects can develop into major explorations.