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!"

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