Web address

Click on http://manor-lodge.dept.shef.ac.uk for more information about the dig, including images, history, and fieldwork findings.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Day 25: Friday the 15th of July

Sadly, after five marvelous weeks, the manor lodge dig 2011 has come to an end. Thanks to everyone who participated, especially those who, in some small or large way, had to put up with the irritating behaviour of the blogger ...

To mark the end of this year's dig, we are proud to announce the results of the coveted manor lodge 2011 Find of the Year Award!

There was stiff competition ...

 The headless horseman, who starred in the Sleepy Hollow film, took time out of his busy schedule to compete ...
... the musket ball was a bookies' favourite until its campaign was de-railed by object biographer Tom's last minute revelation that it might not actually have been fired ...
... and the bone combs came close to stealing the show after bribing officials with offers of immaculate hair control
... but, ultimately, a winner was declared:

FIND OF THE YEAR: A small bone needle, found in trench 22 on day 19.

In honour of the dig's completion, we asked assistant site director and list-making specialist Vicky to summarise the findings and progress made in each trench:

Final trench summary: the long gallery - trenches 19, 21, and 22.

Excavation in the long gallery revealed a great deal of evidence relating to the 19th-century occupation of this part of the site. Just under the turf were the remains of walls, flagged floors and fireplaces belonging to the cottages that were built into the Tudor long gallery during the site’s industrial phase. We were able to correlate the archaeological remains with late 19th- and early 20th-century photographs of the long gallery, confirming the presence of up to eight cottages in this area.

Within the cottage walls were fairly deep deposits of demolition rubble; small sondages in these trenches revealed that the flagged floors of the cottages had, in some cases, been laid over this rubble. This demolition material may have been related to the destruction of parts of the Tudor building in the early 18th century (when parliament granted permission for the demolition of some of the buildings at the site). Alternatively, it could have derived from destruction of parts of the building after its use as a pottery kiln (between c.1708-1730) and before the construction of the cottages.

Finds from this area are similar to those discovered nearby during last year’s field school. There is evidence for industry, in the form of mottled ware pottery and saggars relating to the 18th-century kiln, as well as worked bone and a shaped piece of mother-of-pearl, interpreted as a decorative inset for a bone handle. The domestic lives of the inhabitants have also been revealed, through pottery sherds dating from the 18th and 19th centuries, and a bone comb.

Crucially, what the evidence from these trenches tells us is that the story of the long gallery’s occupation is complex, and that there are likely to have been numerous phases of activity here, each associated with acts of building, rebuilding or demolition of different parts of the building.

Final trench summary: the outer courtyard - trench 20.

Trench 20 was positioned in the outer courtyard of the site, in order to investigate further a structure or walled enclosure discovered during excavations at the site during the 1970s. While these excavations had revealed much of the extent of the structure, its date and function were not well understood. We excavated through a number of relatively modern layers, including what appeared to be a 19th-century garden soil (similar to the layers found during the previous year’s excavations in the inner courtyard and yielding many similar finds, including large amounts of Victorian pottery and clay pipe), before encountering the remains of the structure.

In this trench we uncovered the continuation of the east walls of the structure, parts of which had initially been exposed in the 1970s. In fact, the stones of the wall had been robbed at some point in the past (possibly during re-modelling of the manor complex), so the feature we traced was a robber trench; in other words, the shallow trench in which the foundations of the wall had sat, which was filled with demolition rubble and mortar that had been thrown in after the retrieval of the useful stones. This feature yielded a number of fragments of pottery, tentatively dated to the Medieval or Early Post-Medieval period (post-excavation analysis of these sherds by a pottery specialist after the dig will reveal more about their date and provenance).

In addition to the wall trench, we also traced a spread of stones, possibly representing an insubstantial wall feature, part of which had also been exposed in the 1970s, although the function and date of this feature is currently unknown. Excavating down to the natural clay in this area revealed an apparent distinction between the surfaces inside and outside of the enclosure; while the clay on the outside had pottery and animal bone impressed into it, the surface on the inside yielded very few finds. This, and the lack of any soil layer above the clay, suggests that occupation debris had not built up inside the structure. It was, therefore, either kept very clean inside or it had a function that did not lead to the build up of occupation evidence.

In comparison with the trenches in the long gallery, the archaeology in Trench 20 was more subtle. Our understanding of the structure or enclosure, including its use and date, will need to be developed by conducting further research after the excavation into the types of building that were used in medieval and post-medieval deer parks.

Thanks to Vicky for those summaries.

As the end of the dig drew closer, and as the archaeologists dug into a final helping of salty Huw's fish and chips, a couple of intrepid individuals, having personally experienced the blogger's interviewing reign of terror, took it upon themselves to bring the cuplrit to justice, and subject him to his very own interrogation.

The Final Interview Conducted by Lucy and Tom.

Hello Huw.


Are you nervous?

Yes, exceptionally.

Good. Let's start: what has been the most challenging day?

Probably the first fish-and-chips friday, when we were operating without a spreadsheet to calculate the order. I'd added everything up about five times and never came out with the same number. Eventually, Vicky was able to employ her list-making expertise to resolve the situation.

What is the best piece of advice you received over the last 5 weeks?

Simon's insights into archaeology and poo.

What has been your favourite moment?

Katie S.'s incomplete understanding of Jenny's nationality. That or the cake find.

A question from Ian. How many archaeologists does it take to dig a trench?

One to do the digging and seven or eight to stand around making smart alec remarks.

Have you anything to say to your blog followers?

No. [laughter]. Except for thanks greatly for reading the blog, and for putting up with the photographs and interviews!

What is now your honest opinion of archaeologists?

[Long, long pause]. Well, they do make exceptionally good cake! But seriously, I've met a lot of archaeologists over the years, and almost without exception I've got on well with them, so they do seem to be a very good sort.

Thanks to Lucy and Tom for that one.

And very finally:

There's just time for a quick word from Dawn and Vicky:

"Many individuals contributed to the excavations this year, from local volunteers who came along to experience a day of digging, to students (from Sheffield and further afield) who stayed for the whole 5 weeks of the dig. Thanks to all of them for their hard work and for making the dig a success!"

Friday, 15 July 2011

Day 24: Thursday the 14th of July

Today is the second to last day of the manor lodge 2011 fieldwork! With the end upon us, the blogger spoke with some of our long serving third years and external students to find out how the excavation had gone:


Alex, what did you enjoy most about your stay at Manor Lodge?

Every moment at manor lodge is a good moment!

Very good. What helped you through the five weeks of hard work?

Getting involved in as many different tasks as possible - variety is the keys!

Jon, can we interview you?

Do you have to?

Yes indeed. What's been your best experience thus far?

Mattocking with extreme prejudice.

And how have you coped with five weeks of digging alongside your good friend Matt?

Colossal rage.

Kate, was has been your best moment at the lodge this year?

Cleaning 'madra', the Torksey dog's skull!

What techniques have you used to get through five weeks of archaeological work?

Drinking lots on Friday night, wearing lots of black, and attacking random people on the street!

Lily, what's been the highlight of this year's dig for you?

Digging! But seriously, the best part was when we found finds that resembled the trenches we dug last year.

How have you coped with the pressures of archaeological research?

My friends! They kept me sane!

Liv, can you pick out a best moment from manor lodge 2011?

Being in Charlie's archaeological militia!

How have you dealt with being one of the few on the intensive five week placement?

Headphones and a reliable ipod!

Matt, what has been the best moment of the dig for you?

Probably digging my own sondage. Also finding the lead ingot and anything else vaguely metallic.

What skills do you employ to maintain your sanity during the intensive archaeological work you're doing here?

Well I was already insane before I came here anyway, but singing and shouting the whole time certainly helps.

Christian, what's been the best moment of the 2011 dig for you?

Being with the nice people I met here every day.

What coping skills have you employed to keep yourself sane at the lodge?

Archaeology! Honestly, I've been perfectly happy the whole time!

Hello Lucy.

Oh no, I hate interviews!

Ah. Oh well. Can you tell us your favourite moment of the dig this year?

It will be finishing this interview!

Good answer. With that goal in mind, can you briefly enlighten us as to how you have coped with the five week placement here at the manor?

Blocking out Matt and Jon's voices!

Tom, amazingly, it seems you've managed to avoid the camera lens for the whole dig. I hope this picture of Jon's head and a certain northern condiment will suffice. Anywho, what's been your best moment on site this year?

Finally hitting actual archaeology at a depth of 120cm at Torksey.

And how have you dealt with the grueling pressures of modern archaeological work?

Henderson's Relish!

Callum, give us your favourite moment, right now!

Finding the big stone slabs in the long gallery!

And how have you managed to keep yourself motivated during the dig?

Blocked out all the background noise generated by ... an anonymous duo!

Lizzie, you're next for the dreaded interview!

I don't do interviews Huw!

Oh! It's not really an interview. More of a pop quiz. Let's give it a go: what's been your favourite part of the dig?

Flotation actually, I really enjoyed it.

Ah, good. I'll tell whatshisname.


That's the one. And how have you been coping with the intensive work programme?

I haven't. I go to bed dreaming of features, contexts, and soil.

Thanks to all!

The last few days have also seen the processing of finds from the Torksey site ...

... and it was suggested that there would be no problem whatsoever in mixing these finds up with those from manor lodge.
Archaeological hairdo of the year:

Vicky Crewe was this year's proud winner, with this planning-inspired nail bun.
And finally ...

Today was the richest day on record for quote of the day entries, featuring:

Jenny, with the finds processor's mantra: "wash it and see!".

Kate S., to Jenny: "Oh, I didn't realise you were Irish! I thought you were just from a funny part of England!"

Tomorrow will be the last day of the 2011 dig - watch out tomorrow for the coveted 'find of the year' award, as well as an interview with the blogger (the very same!), and a summary of the archaeological findings made at manor lodge.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Day 23: Wednesday the 13th of July

Having undergone extensive rehabilitation in a small island off the coast of Cuba ...

The blogger returns ...

Occasioning ecstatic scenes of celebration at manor lodge:

Cheering crowds ...
... and delirious adulation.
 Today: small finds special!

Decorated wood

Painted plaster

A lead musket ball (right) posing with his brother, a used musket ball featured on day 12

A 17th century clay pipe

We can tell that this pipe is from around the 17th century as the bowl is smaller and more bulbous than more recent examples.

This find also has decoration around the rim (milling), which is characteristic of earlier pipes.

The decoration on this pipe reads 'BENIAMIN MAZDEN' (read: Benjamin). This is likely to be the maker's name, although attempts to trace him have thus far been unsuccessful. Post excavation analysis and consultation of pipe maker catalogues should reveal more. This year and last year we have found pipes made by the Wild pipe manufacturing family of Rotherham, but this is the first pipe we have bearing this name.

Find of the day was a rather larger specimen:
A (hopefully) whole saggar embedded into the section of a sondage in trench 22

It seems to be part of a general demolition layer, perhaps related to the 18th century kiln and associated workshop in this area.
Meanwhile, in Alvaro's trench:

A slot was excavated in the robber trench to investigate its fill, which, it turns out, consists of mainly stones and mortar.
Matt engaged in some household chores.

Some challenging sections were drawn.

Whilst Alvaro, acutely aware that only three days remain, attempted to improve efficiency by flapping his arms and taking to the skies.

Modern art of the day: 'Labelled Owl on Archaeological Drawing', Kate B, 2011. The owl, renowned for its keen eyesight, symbolises the meticulous care with which archaeologists draw sections and plans.

And finally ...

The return of the blogger also sees the return of the archaeology top trumps. Today, Alvaro:

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Day 22: Tuesday the 12th of July

Bloggers: Nat and Tom G.
Trench 22 update
The 22 Crew were cleaning the entire area of the trench in readiness for recording. Tom was planning again, this time in Trench 21.

Trench 20 update

In Trench 20, Vicky was teaching levelling to two of the external students, Kaitlin and Anna: 

Activities in trench 20 were primarily focused on cleaning today – the sections were finished, and features in the trench were brushed in preparation for photography.  Kate and Alex began to plan the wall feature using a planning grid:

Kate works whilst Alex poses ...
The feature they’re planning follows the course of a wall found to the north in the 1970s. However, the stones filling the feature are too irregular and disturbed to be part of the wall itself, and it is possible, therefore, that we have a ‘robber trench’(i.e. the original stones were robbed at some point in the past, leaving a ‘channel’ that was then filled in with demolition rubble).


What’s your name and where do you come from?
Hi, I’m Danny from California. I attended U.C. (University of California) San Diego.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I’m a big fan of history books, but I also enjoy the theatre. I’m a bit of an actor, and I’ve been in a number of Shakespeare plays.
Ah. So, who’s your favourite Shakespeare character?
Bottom from Midsummer Night’s Dream!
And your ideal archaeological dig?
Definitely a Roman site – I think excavating a catacomb would be awesome.
Interview no. 2
[Puts on fake Yorkshire accent] What’s tha name pet?
It’s Cathryn.
Are you at university then?
No, I’m currently in grade ten in school. I’ve lived in Britain and America, and I’m now based in Singapore!
Out of those three, which is your favourite?
Well, I’d certainly live in Britain. 
Why did you choose Manor Lodge?
It was one of the few digs in Britain that accepts aspiring archaeologists that are still in school!
And your ideal archaeological dig?
Definitely in Italy!
Anywhere in particular?
Whatever arose!  In particular, southern Italy.
Thanks to those guys for the interviews and sustaining the banter throughout!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Day 21: Monday the 11th of July

Bloggers: Kate 'the Goth' B. and Nat.

On site today the ground has been baked akin to a fine pastry crust, ready for the arrival of some new people. Most of the Sheffield first-year students have left, but some new volunteers (external students both from the UK and further afield) are now working on site in their stead.

Long Gallery Update

Intense elevation drawing of the plaster of the long gallery wall
Trench 22 is now almost finished, with elevations being drawn of the east-facing wall, while the trench is being cleaned back ready for photographing and planning.

Working like beavers
The fireplace feature has been uncovered and completely cleaned. The sondage is also being recorded and the stratigraphy has been inspected by Charlie's beard.
Zeus' beard says 'They're being recalcitrant!'
In trench 21, Tom is planning. Once he finishes, this trench will be completed.

Tom loves planning
Trench 20 Update

In trench 20, we are continuing to expose the north-south aligned wall in the eastern end of the trench, and excavating the interface of a clay layer, context (20025). This has yielded a large amount of animal bone and pottery sherds (some of which may be Medieval or Tudor).

The use of spoons is an integral part of archaeology, just ask Lily 'Potsmasher' Carhart. Here, Lily is cleaning the section of trench 20 using a variety of tools.
Foundation cut and possible disturbed wall being subjected to trowelling
In the extension in the eastern end of the trench the sections are being cleaned back, and the wall feature is also being cleaned in order to more clearly define its edges and fill. In the western end of the trench students are mattocking down to what we believe to be the underlying natural clay.

Today's Interview

Beth, from Dalton, Cumbria.

So, what university are you from?

Sheffield, I've just finished my first year.

What would be your ideal place to work on an excavation?

I would excavate an entire Roman town ... and I'd do it alone!

What has been the highlight of your time so far on site?
Well it may not be my highlight exactly but ... when I dragged the wheelbarrow up the spoil heap ramp and fell sideways it seemed to be a highlight for others.

Wheelbarrow Olympics 2012 gold medalist potential there. Thanks to Beth for being our interviewee for the day.

Find Of The Day

Sherd of medieval pottery with some green glaze on it. Chris Cumberpatch, a local pottery expert, has informed us that this is probably a sherd of Coal Measures pottery which may date to the late 13th century. This came from trench 20, close to the wall, and it's particularly important as it may give us a date for the activity in this area.
Quote Of The Day

Nat: "I'm only thinking what everyone's saying"

And with that gem of wisdom another day at the Manor is over!