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  • David Quick

Day 12 - A dramatic end to today

Before I say anything about the rest of the day I just want to say thank you and well done to Tina in particular, and also to Jordan of the Town Council's grounds team. While we were packing up this afternoon a lovely lady in the Park who had been visiting our Dig fainted with heat exhaustion. Tina was the first to notice the situation and did a lovely job of helping this lady and her husband, looking after her while we waited for the paramedics to arrive. Jordan was also excellent in looking after her. I'm pleased to say that Cecilia was eventually well enough to be taken home and did not have to go to hospital.


So you can guess how hot it was today if you were not there. We had a fairly small team today and Juliet, Carl and I started before morning brief by discussing priorities.


First priority was to finish the test pit in the children's play area because we knew that the workmen replacing the fence would be coming to take down their HERAS fencing within which we had been working. Second priority - probably tomorrow - is to do some geophys in the south-east corner of the Gardens where we have not explored yet. Third priority is to dig a test pit in a garden in Lenten Street that we did a geophys scan in several days ago - hopefully also tomorrow.


Juliet asked Carl to finish off the test pit in the play area.

Carl starting to finish off the productive test pit in the play area.

No this is not Carl about to set off a tripwire. This is the string he used to measure from when digging each 10cm layer or 'spit'.

Carl quickly discovered that the Romano-British pottery was in quite a discrete layer and that underneath it was post-Roman material, suggesting that the pottery had been deposited there not in Roman times but at a later date. This is puzzling but may have happened when the adjoining path was being laid many years ago and the workmen might not have realised what they were raking. This test pit has produced many very interesting finds, seen here.

Romano-British pottery, brick and tile from the test pit in the play area.

As soon as Carl had finished, the team backfilled this test pit which was timely because the HERAS fencing was indeed taken away.


While Carl was working on this, David Graham called by and had a lengthy archaeologist to archaeologist chat with Juliet, speculating what was going on in this area, talking about the local geology and discussing future areas of interest - one of which in Alton (Iron Age) sounds like a fascinating prospect for next year. Leah, our Town Clerk, dropped by later and she was supportive by giving us permission to geophys the location in question later this autumn/winter.


On the other side of the Gardens progress was steady but a bit slower than usual in the heat. In the far north-east corner of the Gardens I saw Paul and Felix working away in their test pit where they had discovered another corner of the British Restaurant foundations.

Felix (left) and Paul working on clearing more of the the WW2 foundations of the British Restaurant

In the centre of the Gardens work was ongoing in three other test pits. This was Davy carrying on working in his despite it being a tea break. He is like a Duracell bunny and we have yet to find his 'off' switch.

Davy finding what we believe to be Romano-British foundations,

In the photo above a ridge has been left down the middle of the test pit behind Davy because below that is where the high-voltage runs. Beyond that ridge we have found what we believe is a section of Roman wall and where Davy is kneeling he is just uncovering some wall foundations.


This is Tina enjoying a break during the morning. Juliet extended the breaks today to ensure everyone had plenty to drink and did not get dehydrated.

Meanwhile over in Test Pit 5 Carol had reached a depth of 0.5 metres and seemed to be finding wall too, with sandy patches alongside.

Carol (centre) alongside her TP5.

Once again we had lots of visitors, some of whom were kind enough to make donations. i spent a lot of time with visiting children and have to say the activities laid on for the have been very popular - well done Chris and Juliet. Many of the same youngsters keep coming back. I find it amusing when looking at skulls how many of them think birds have teeth.


And bless them the Finds Team continued doing a sterling job of keeping up with cleaning and sorting the finds - not an easy job, especially in this weather.

The Finds Team sorting the contents of the finds trays.

Hopefully a bit cooler tomorrow!

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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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