21 June 2010
On Friday all of the team moved to the town field trench to help finish the week’s work in this area.
We are currently at that interesting stage in an excavation when all of the overburden and topsoil has now been removed from the site and hard decisions have to be made about what to start removing and what to leave in place.
This is made more difficult at this site given that we have a number of walls that have fallen over into the interior of the buildings and it is important we pick this patterning up amongst the rest of the debris. Last year, for example, through careful sifting and cleaning back of the debris we picked up the size and outline of one collapsed gable and the outline of a doorway preserved in its original form when it fell in the 17th century. Similar patterns are beginning to become apparent in this year’s trench and we hope to define these further this week.
Another school participated in the excavation today and some of the children made some very exciting discoveries. One found a James I Scottish coin dating to 1614 while a second found an early 17th century pin used to fasten a dress. Others found gaming pieces, ceramics, and numerous fragments of cattle and sheep bone all providing evidence of early 17th century diet and social activities. It really is incredible when you consider how tangible the past becomes when children can engage in an excavation of this kind and how their findings physically connect them to their landscape and past histories. They were especially excited with the thought of being able to visit future exhibitions and displays of their findings in a museum.
Excavation work in the castle trench has finished and the laborious process of drawing and recording the archaeology now begins in earnest. This should take the best part of 2 or 3 days this week as the archaeologists draw detailed plans of the features and record the sections of each side of the trench.
This week promises to be the most exciting of the excavation as we begin to make sense of the jumble of walls, features and finds we have made to date.
Colin Breen is a Senior Lecturer in Maritime Archaeology at the University of Ulster.