Corn height: we can no longer see beyond our trench, if we get lost we may have to remain on site until the harvest
It has been a very relaxing week. Trench I was being excavated by all continuing students, who are now very familiar with our excavation and recording methods. In addition, we had only two in situ burials being worked on by two groups, which meant it was easy for me to keep track of all of the progress without having to rush about too much. I even managed some more paperwork and helped the students out with some washing.
This week, after finishing up a little bit of recording and lifting that had carried over, the students set away excavating a shallow neonate (young infant) burial and another sub-adult burial (estimated to be about 9-11 years). While the neonate burial had very little grave fill to go through before the bones were exposed, the delicate nature of the skeleton meant the students worked very slowly and carefully. The sub-adult individual was very well preserved and the grave fill above them included some very interesting finds, such as different types of ceramics and tiles, which will hopefully help to provide an estimated date for the burial.
In addition to all of our excavations this week, the students also had another go at archery, which is always fantastic. We have, however, had to progress to the harvested field at the bottom of the site, as shooting arrows into a corn-field is slightly less fun when it takes a few hours to retrieve them
While we are approaching the end of the field school (there are only two weeks left, it’s hard to believe) we are still carrying on with our aim to focus in the south west area of the cemetery. It’s a good thing too, as it’s in shouting distance to the hedge.
Not that we’d want to shout at a hedge… but from next week staff and students from Manchester Metropolitan University will be excavating on the other side! It has been really nice to have them out on site this week while they’ve been preparing for their own field school. While it is a separate excavation from ours, we’ll be sharing some facilities and I’m really keen to have a whole heap of fresh perspective on site for the rest of the month.
Speaking of which, I have been at Poulton now for nearly ten weeks and this time has finally started to give me the opportunity to research different aspects of the site and speak with other researchers in medieval archaeology. Poulton is a phenomenal site, due to its multi-period use, and it is wonderful to finally start to get a true sense of the sheer scale of archaeology here. However, like so many research projects, for as many questions as you answer, there will be that many more which you discover you have yet to even consider. I wonder what you would like to know about Poulton?
My working week during week eight actually ended on a Saturday, instead of a Friday. I came down to site on Saturday morning to run an osteology session with the site volunteers. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet those I hadn’t yet and to share with them the incredible resource that is the osteological collection that is being used for research and teaching as a result of the Poulton excavations. We spent the morning going over how to lay out a skeleton, estimate sex, age, and stature, before moving on to discuss funerary and burial practices during the period that Poulton was in use (in addition to my own research on the Black Death). The time went so quickly that I am going to have to organise a separate session to cover trauma and pathology!
I had a great time (and it seems like everyone who attended enjoyed it too). It was definitely worth working on the weekend for it. Especially since afterwards I took a special trip up to Norton Priory with a fellow Canadian archaeologist (oh, if you only know me through the blogs, I should mention: you should be reading these with a Canadian accent). Norton Priory is a wonderful site to visit and after working at Poulton all summer, my trip there this weekend took on a completely different light. The cogs haven’t stopped turning yet and I have a feeling they’re going to keep going for a long while yet.