10 JunVolunteer Experiences – Denise Hood – Week 3

Volunteer Denise Hood continues with her experiences excavating on the East Kent Access Road during her third and final week:

Back again for my third and final week. I’ve been trying to peer over the piles of soil that are neatly piled up by the side of the road as I drive to work but not seeing anything. Still, there were the Open Days to attend, they were brilliant. I borrowed a couple of children from my friend to allow full participation in pot making, identifying finds and trowelling for hidden finds as well as grinding wheat and peering down holes in the ground. The kids enjoyed it too!

By Thursday I was really keen to get back and see the team and find out what had been happening (constant website and blog checks did not help!) but imagine what it was like on the afternoon when driving home and I could see mechanical diggers on the site with the fully excavated barrow and henge – a few texts to my spy in the camp revealed that it was being covered in. I felt sick, but at least it had been recorded in detail and we had all had a chance to see it.

Monday, Bank Holiday, site closed, sat twiddling my thumbs, roll on Tuesday when it was back to the Holiday Inn to meet up with the pals, Cheryl, Gavin, Les, Brian and his daughter and John. We were all a bit quiet as this is our final week and there was an undercurrent of sadness that no one wanted to mention. The difference in a week was amazing, the ring barrow now had lots of excavated trenches around it showing its size and depth as well as variations in the sides, loads of worked flints had been found in at least two of the trenches and further up the site, on another area which had been cleaned previously, trenches had appeared so after a look around to see the changes and say hi to the guys it was back to work with Cheryl and Paul in the big barrow taking measurements and drawing diagrams to show differing fill levels and position of stones, flints etc. That took up most of a day and a half and in the rain too – fortunately we were prepared but the thought of a hot bath was a sustaining thought.

Then it was down to the other end to extend a trench that had been started and was to be extended, the original trench had turned out two really lovely flints and a piece of Roman pot so there was hope of finding more. Cheryl pound a small piece of pot and some more worked flint but it was back to the mattock, shovel and barrow for me. Next day Gavin, Paul and I got to work carefully taking away more of the trench. Both of the guys were finding lots of pot, three large finds bags, the most that had been found on the site to date, how good was that! It appeared to be a mix of Bronze Age and early Roman. Still more digging to do and then I saw it, a tiny dark smear in the ground – could it be? Down with the mattock and grab a trowel, carefully now, take it slowly, no rush. I started to clean around this little mark and there it was, my first find, a little piece of pot size of my thumb nail, thick and black with little white fleck of flint that had been incorporated to stop it shattering when it was being fired. In the great scheme of things it may seem pretty insignificant but I couldn’t have been happier if you had given me the crown jewels. This must be the lucky trench because there was more and more, some with lines forming patterns on the surface and that was the end of a perfect day, it was time to down tools and go home ruminate over it all.

What will we find tomorrow, the last day for us volunteers, who knows. No matter what it can’t beat my little bits of pot. Or can it?

Denise Hood, EKAR Volunteer, June 2010

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