Friday, 1 August 2014

1 August 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 10

Today marked the last day on site for the Hickleton Hall Prisoner of War Project. The day was spent finishing off the various drawings and recording all that still needed to be finished. The last hut base, number 8 was recorded by Becky, Anne and Rob, whilst Martin and Ant finished off sondage 7.

The natural feature in sondage 5 was also cleaned and photographed.

Then sondage 7 was also photographed once all the bricks and clinker had been removed. This revealed the buried soil below these features. This would have been the original turf layer on top of which the clinker was laid.

Then, just as the rain hit us, sondage 6 was also cleaned and photographed.

So, that is it for another year, there is a little bit of finishing off that needs doing on Monday morning and the hut bases need to be back filled, but the majority of work is completed. Over the course of two weeks the team produced over sixty context sheets and twenty drawings! All of these will be compiled in the future into a report that will be published on the Elmet Website!

All that remains is to say a massive thank you to everyone who gave up their precious time to come and help us excavate the site; we at Elmet truly appreciate all your efforts and hard work and hope that you all had fun!

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Thursday, 31 July 2014

31 July 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 9

With it being the penultimate day for the Hickleton Hall project it was all steam ahead with recording today! Jonathan and Jean finished off drawing the stones in sondage 6.

Meanwhile, Martin and Ant did the same in sondage 7, there is a lot of bricks to draw here, but it's all good practise!

Russ and Anne continued working in sondage 5, near hut base 6. They had discovered a feature underneath the rubble, so it had to be investigated. When it was dug, however, it turned out just to be a natural fissure in the geology. But this shows that these things have to be dealt with in case they are archaeological features!

Over on the other side of the hut bases we had noticed that there was another vehicle inspection pit, so Dickie, Rob and Duncan spent the morning clearing the weeds and moss off the concrete to expose the top layers of the feature.

Unfortunately, we don't have time to fully excavate this feature this season, but we needed to record its location and how big it is in plan.

Whilst all this activity was going on, Lee and Alex recorded the locations of all the hut bases using the Total Station Theodolite (TST; the green machine on the yellow tripod). This electronically records distances and heights so they can be used to create an accurate plan of the whole site when we turn to writing the report.

Tomorrow will bring more of the same as we close site down for this season, but we still have lots to do!

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

30 July 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 8

The day began with a cold start this morning,it looked like it was going to rain, but fortunately it didn't and the sun shone for most of the day! Helen and Glynis continued recording sondage 5, first of all by taking levels.

Then completing context sheets for all of the archaeological deposits. When they had finished this in the afternoon they began to remove the brick rubble and found that it was directly sat on the sandstone bedrock.

Meanwhile, we investigated parts of hut base 5, for this we only needed to open a couple of test trenches. The first one, showed that the hut base was made of a layer of concrete surrounded by a double skin of red bricks, so this was recorded.

The other test pit at the opposite end of the base showed a little bit more detail, for example it was seen that the brick wall was a couple of courses high. This hut base is very different to the others that we have investigated, having solid brick construction rather than wooden frames.

While all this was happening, back on hut base 8, Martin and Phil continued to clean the brick step and kerb stones. We have extended the trench to show the full step and see what form the kerb stones take. They are similar to hut base 6 and look like they enclose a small garden!

They also found this small piece of wire protruding from under the kerb, it appears to be electricity wire or even communications wire and feeds directly under the kerb stones. It will be interesting to see where it leads when we remove the kerb stones.

Once the sondage was cleaned up, we photographed it ready for recording.

On the other side of the hut, Ellie and Jonathan cleaned up the sandstone blocks they had uncovered in sondage 6.

Their cleaning has revealed the clinker path running directly up to the sandstone blocks, these were possibly placed there as a rockery, or even an aid for walking at night as they are light in colour.

Today was also button bonanza! Martin and Phil found one in their sondage:

And Ellie found four in hers! At least two of these are marked with the manufacturers' stamp; 'Cheney, B'Ham'

So with two days left on site, we are still finding interesting artefacts and features, so who knows what tomorrow will bring!

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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

29 July 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 7

With the weather still holding up well, the team got a lot done today again. It all began with the clearing off of the topsoil from hut base 8. There wasn't much left to do here, so the job didn't take very long with everyone helping.

Then came the task of cleaning the top of the concrete with trowels, this job was done by Ellie, Emily and Judy as they had not had the chance to do this before.

Soon enough the concrete was cleaned and photographs were taken of the feature.

Meanwhile, over at hut base 6 we began the unenviable job of backfilling the topsoil on the concrete. This is to avoid any accidents with the cows that normally populate the field!

It is a thankless task, but was soon completed. The grass will grow back very quickly over the top of the base and no one will ever know we were there!

Then attention was turned back to hut base 7 and the two sondages on the edges of the base. Rob and Jonathan cleaned out the remaining material of sondage 4.

And it was then photographed and levelled.

Sondage 5, on the other hand, is about half way through to completion. There are only patches of brick rubble in this area, they may be the remains of a step, but that is impossible to tell as the bricks are so fragmentary. However, this still needs to be recorded and that is a task for tomorrow.

Back at hut base 8, Judy and Ellie began opening sondage 6, this was placed at the eastern end of the hut base to see if there was a brick step here or not. The initial cleaning has only shown us these sandstone blocks. However, these are very similar to the 'rockery' on hut base 7, so it is still interesting to see.

What was very surprising was sondage 7, opened by Phil, Emily and Jean. This very quickly revealed a brick step.

This was very unexpected as it was on the opposite side of the hut compared to the other huts we have already excavated this season. Tomorrow, we will open the sondage a bit more and see how far this feature extends.

We had no buttons today, but Ellie did recover this very nice pot base from one of the post holes in hut base 8, unfortunately, it has no markings on it, but is still a very nice find!

Another day with a lot of activity and happy archaeologists! Tomorrow should bring some interesting results in the two new sondages, so drop in tomorrow and see what comes from them!

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Monday, 28 July 2014

28 July 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 6

Today is the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War when Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. This makes it all the more poignant that we are working on a Second World War site, a war that was very much the result of the first. However, such an anniversary didn't slow down the work and it began with the continuing recording left over from Friday, as Ant and Rob finished off their drawing in sondage 4.

Meanwhile, Dickie and Jonathan removed the rest of the remains in sondage 2, to try and find the natural bedrock. It was proving to be rather elusive! It may just be that the buried soil is deeper in this part of the site.

Ant and Rob continued their recording by filling in context sheets for each and every archaeological context in the sondage. This has to be carried out and is incredibly important as it is the only record we have of the archaeology once it is removed from the ground. Each sheet records a different context, jargon for each individual deposit in the ground. So in this instance, the bricks are a separate context, the clinker path is another, the sandstones yet another, etc. These are given an individual number and described on the sheets for the later report writing.

Whilst this work continued we started clearing the topsoil off the third hut base (number 8 in our numbering system). This will be the last one we will look at this season.

The sondages around hut base 6 were all being finished, Martin and Helen removed the clinker path and sandstone kerb down onto the buried soil.

When they had finished the sondage was photographed for the last time and recorded.

When Ant and Rob had finished recording sondage 4, they excavated the small post hole we had noticed on the edge of the steps, driven through the clinker surface. This looked like a root, but was probably the hole left from a sign post outside the hut entrance. Possibly to denote which unit was barracked there. However, without the actual post, this is impossible to verify, but it's a nice story!

By the end of the afternoon, Dickie and Jonathan had finished their work in sondage 2, so this little trench was photographed and recorded as well.

And shirt button number five made its appearance today, it came from the clinker pathway in sondage 4, it seems that the men in that particular hut were good at losing buttons!

So we have finished three of the sondages around hut base 6 and are well under way with the other two on hut base 7, with the topsoil being cleared off from hut base 8. This week will be busy, but all the work will be done by Friday. 

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Friday, 25 July 2014

25 July 2014, Hickleton Hall POW Project Day 5

The last day of the first week was another scorcher, we haven't had as much as a single drop of rain all week, which is just fine by us! Work continued in the sondages on hut base 7, with Ant working alone until Rob arrived in the afternoon.

Over at hut base 6 the team continued cleaning up the various sondages.

Martin excavated the newly opened sondage on the corner of the hut base, down to the pathway of clinker and sandstone kerbing.

Whilst Jonathan and Sue recorded the remains we have uncovered in the western sondage. Here, Jonathan measures various points whilst Sue draws the trench on permatrace.

Then the two were taught by Kate to set up and use the theodolite to level the trench.

By the end of the morning they had produced this excellent plan drawing of their trench.

Martin's sondage was also cleaned up ready for a photograph. It showed that the kerb of sandstones around the front of the hut stopped at the corner, but still retained what appeared to be garden earth. The clinker pathway was still in evidence as well!

With the addition of Rob in the afternoon, the sondage at the entrance of hut base 7 was cleaned ready for photographing.

You can see the brick built step and small rockery made from sandstones.

The entrance to this hut base was clearly defined by the brick step, bounded by a jumble of sandstone blocks. These may have been used to fill in the hole left in the ground when they constructed the hut originally. On hut base 6 it appears the men had used this chance to make a small garden, but here it was just filled in with stone.

Then the trench was recorded as with all the other archaeological remains.

In the entrance sondage on hut base 6 we discovered the cut for the construction of the hut. You can just make out the line, about half way down the trench, where the original greyish soil meets the yellowish sandstone. It appears that the ground was cleared down to the natural bedrock before they began building the huts.

We also found some great artefacts today, like this button from another undershirt, this was the third one found.

And this press stud, again, from a uniform.

But, by far, the find of the day went to Ant with this, the fourth button and .303 bullet! It has been fired, you can see the rifling grooves on the side. The lack of any damage on the nose indicates that it was fired into a sandbox by a sentry. The sentry would have stood with a chambered round in his rifle and would have discharged it when he came off duty. This may have got stuck on someone's boot as it was found within the brick entrance to hut base 7.

Another great day, with lots done and found, but we have finished for the weekend. Hopefully the cows will leave our trenches alone and we'll be back on site on Monday! Also check out our Twitter and Facebook for more updates on Elmet and what we are up to!