Weeks 1 and 2
Monday May 9th dawned bright and sunny for the arrival of Colin and a lot of first-year Archaeology students in a big white van, plus a number of volunteers.
The main focus for the first week was the opening of two trenches and a test pit on the Spital field. The first measures 10 x 8 metres, and overlaps one that was dug in 2011 in order to investigate the first section of wall discovered on the scheduled monument. The objective is to dig further west from the 2011 trench and deeper, in the hopes of discovering more convincing evidence of medieval hospital structures.
The second trench is 10 x 2 metres, running north – south, and is located just north of the stone feature, initially described as a possible ice house, that was exposed when Severn Trent put a drain across the field in 1999. Trent and Peak Archaeology excavated the feature at the time and in their report concluded it was more likely to be a corn-drying kiln. Medieval pottery was found in the vicinity of the kiln, which was subsequently destroyed by the laying of the drain. The objective of the second trench, and a small test pit to the east of it, is to investigate the area around these earlier findings.
With the exception of Tuesday afternoon of week 1, when the heavens opened and everyone went home, the weather has been mostly good and by the time Monday of week 2 came around some interesting features had emerged on the first trench – a possible burial cut, and an area of stones that (with a bit of imagination) could be the remains of a passageway. The burial cut turned out to be something entirely different…. (see slide show below).
Possibly the most promising finds (apart from the telegraph pole insulators) from the first two weeks on the Spital Field are two pieces of worked gritstone with distinctive mouldings – perhaps from a high status building? (See photos below).