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  • David Quick

Day 4 - Coins and cannonballs

For the diggers it must be quite tedious at the moment because we are still in the early stages of this dig, the soil is quite hard and the test pits are for the most part only 30cm down. However, for me it was a really interesting day, and that is not just from talking to so many interested passers-by.


What was new today? For the most part we have been working on the same areas of the Public Gardens and Barton End, but when I arrived this morning Carl showed me the geophys results from one of the gardens in Lenten Street that they scanned yesterday and the plot looks intriguing. I could clearly see some rectilinear features on the resistivity plot. Yes, they might just be buried garden features - but they might also be buried foundations from an ancient building. We'll soon see.


Meanwhile work started today in one of the private back gardens in Kingsland Road. Juliet called me over on the radio to photograph a coin they had found - but to my amusement it turned out to be a French 2 Franc coin dating from 1980 seen here! Not archaeology.

Nevertheless the team seemed to be doing well there, as seen below.

Paul and Jane trowelling hard.

Back at the main site I was fascinated because we were shown an item found by another resident of Kingsland Road. Mr Young had found in his garden what appears to us to be a cannonball, presumably dating from the battle that took place in Alton during the English Civil War. I was given the chance to photograph and record it. This cannonball weighs 1.5kg and has a diameter of about 7.5cm (3 inches):

What we think is a cannonball, presumably dating from the Battle of Alton.

In the Public Gardens Davy and Caroline finished work on the foundations test pit near the fountain. They found that the concrete and brick foundations were only 17cm thick. From the photos it looks very much to me as though the concrete has the imprint of upside-down railway sleepers, as the basis for the WW2 wooden hut constructed on top. Finds have included lots of modern bits of broken tea cup, lumps of coal, etc - but also some pieces of clay pipe stem. This is a drone photo I took of the pit this afternoon.

Drone photo of the foundations in the test pit.

Over in the other ongoing test pit in the Gardens, Carol and her team worked on under the cover of a gazebo and are down about 30cm below the surface now. The most interesting find they showed me was a base of what I think is a piece of Romano-British pottery (Alice Holt) but I would not expect to find much more Roman material until we are down about 1 metre.


The volunteers working on finds cleaning and recording were also doing a great job. This is a view of them from above by the drone.

Drone's eye view of the finds team.

Over at Barton End I found Carl with the two teams working on test pits there, also now about 30cm deep.

Working on the Barton End test pits.

Carl was looking a bit pensive so I went over for a chat.

Carl in deep thought. We know this area was until the 1970s a grass tennis court but are getting down to more interesting layers.

He showed me one of their nicer finds to date. It needs cleaning up but is an intriguing piece of decorated pottery.

Carl's interesting fragment of ornate pot.

I found Juliet over there too, going through the finds from the other test pit.

Juliet sorting through some of the Barton End finds to date.

Juliet said she was especially interested in some of the clay pipe pieces, some of which have a very narrow diameter and others much broader.

The finds may be small but there is quite a variety and they are interesting.

I'm going to finish with two more drone photos. This is the presumably Victorian garden feature again, seen from above.

However, I find this one much more interesting. The very dry weather of the last week has made all the parch marks reappear in the lawn and they can be seen more clearly by the drone. I can now not only see parch marks in the grass near where we have excavated the foundations just east of the flower beds around the fountain - but also now to the north and west of the fountain as well. And perhaps an east-west parch mark leading towards Carol's tarpaulin at the top-right as well?

Spot the parch marks appearing because of this spell of hot and dry weather!


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Alton Big Dig

East Hampshire's community archaeology group with 160 volunteer members working under professional archaeologist supervision, exploring sites at Alton, Colemore and Stroud near Petersfield.

Email: altonbigdig@gmail.com

East Hampshire Community Archaeology

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