What a difference a day makes

Our second day was much nicer than our first. We even ended up taking our coats off!

Grahame Spurway, Stuart Henderson, Dave Minty and Jim West push the cart at Great Buttway.

Grahame Spurway, Stuart Henderson, Dave Minty and Jim West push the cart at Great Buttway.

We had another very successful day completing 11 grids of which five were partials and, more importantly, completing the area I was hoping to cover.  We have now covered all the area where we knew there were archaeological remains as shown by Mark Noel’s previous survey.  Many thanks to Ivor, Nigel, Dave, Grahame, Jim, Ellen, Stuart and Peter for an excellent couple of day’s work.  Even bigger thanks go to Sam Sheppard for allowing us access to the land once more.

The Ashwell End / Great Buttway survey at the end of day 8.

The Ashwell End / Great Buttway survey at the end of day 8.

The final area we surveyed is very quiet indeed, lying within the curved feature, possibly a ditch, that comes across the field from the east and then turns north until it hits the road.  Outside of this feature there are stripes which are clearly cultivation marks either running east-west, or north-south.  I had been ignoring these assuming them to be modern, but now I am wondering if we have the remnants of ridge-and-furrow, especially the north-south marks to the west of the clear north-south ditch.  I decided to look at old field boundaries and had a look at the 1888 first edition map.  Unfortunately, I cannot post it here, but I did trace off the field boundaries using Google Earth, as well as adding in the modern footpath.

The Great Buttway survey showing field boundaries from the 1888 map in orange, and the modern footpath in blue.

The Great Buttway survey showing field boundaries from the 1888 map in orange, and the modern footpath in blue.

The precise location of the boundaries is not totally accurate due to the way the OS first series maps were made, but we can see that the east-west part of the curving ditch follows the boundary until it turns north.  There is no marked boundary where the ditch can be seen clearly on the plot.  I need to look-up the tithe map. The boundary which heads south from the dog-leg in the road matches the curves in the data.  We do, therefore, seem to have some remnant of the earlier cultivation pattern.  I’m surprised that modern ploughing has not obliterated the evidence for this.  The footpath originally followed the line of the long east-west field boundary and has clearly migrated south onto the straight line across the field which it now follows.

The process of coming up with a detailed interpretation of all the features in this field is going to be long as there are a great many of them.  Just as a taster, here is a detail of some of the features in the Roman part of the site.

Detail of the Roman site in the NW corner of Great Buttway.

Detail of the Roman site in the NW corner of Great Buttway.

We will take a break from this site for now.  It would be good to return once the silage has been cut.  It is unlikely we’ll get into the field to the NE — Prycem’s — this year as it is going to be planted with oil-seed rape once the wheat has been harvested.  Next year, however, we should have a good window of opportunity to extend the survey into that field in which Roman buildings are known.

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