The excavation on site seems to be progressing smoothly despite the rain yesterday.  The volunteers didn’t get put off (apart from Bill who hurt his back (wink wink)).  The organic layers are proving productive and we have also made a start on drawing and recording the artefacts.  These include the coot bone, several pike bones and the (now two pieces) of worked wood!  We have also uncovered half (the upper half) of a mallard but it has not been lifted yet.

We have also been processing many of the environmental samples using a method called flotation.  It is designed to separate all the ‘floaty bits’ from the ‘sinky bits’ and allows us to see the seeds and small animal remains within the deposits.  It is a fairly wet process as it requires washing all the silts off through the different graded sieves.  We mix the sample with water to separate all the different elements and make sure that all the silt is broken up.  This allows the wood and stones to sink and the seeds to float.  The silt is held in suspension in the water.  We then feed this through the sieves and make sure all the silts are washed away.  This leaves residues that, once dry, can be sorted and recorded.  We have been finding lots of common pond and ramshorn snails as well as tiny mussels (we have also found living pond snails and mussels when dipping a net into the drain next to the site!).  The seeds have been predominantly cow parsley type plants (these could be water or land based) but will be sent away for more detailed analysis with microscopes. 

        Kneading the samples

          Bronze-Age pike bone

          Modern-day ditcvh sample, containing water snails, water mites, caddis fly and damselfly larvae, Canadian pond weed, ivy-leafed duck weed and water crow-foot

         A  visitor helping with flotation

          Silt layer below the upper organic layer

Guest blogger: Hayley Roberts