Friday, 19 June 2009

Day 7 - Pressed for time

Crashing towards the end of digging time now. More unearthed every minute, and time running out. Also welcome visitors from the local press have been busily interviewing us and taking pictures for the newspapers all afternoon.

Arguments rage! But obviously in a purely consultative archaeological fashion.
Why? No-one, including the directors of the project, the supervisors, the students and volunteers, has been able to agree on what on earth the Royal Navy and British Army engineers were doing when they put the 1915-1916 ack-ack battery in place. We now have so many unanswered questions about what seemed to be a relatively simple archaeological area.
  1. When was the big lump of concrete put there?
  2. When was the very large area of smooth concrete put there?
  3. What is the phasing of the different elements of the gun emplacement?
  4. (As one local asked - Why are we digging up an old children's roundabout?!)
The pit, if indeed it is one, has now produced almost perfect dating evidence ... coins from 1942 and 1943. It doesn't get better than that.
And, may we suggest, the man that edits this blog found potentially one of the great finds of the site ... more tomorrow ...
David and Lisa
19 June 2009

Today has been about consolidation and PR in about equal measure. We have not opened any more trenches but the ones we have open are beginning to resolve themselves.

The Rubbish pit has now been dated by a contextualised coin to 1943 or later which ties in very nicely with the material we are getting out of it, which today included a very well preserved woman's shoe, possibly ATS of WRAF issue, various bits of ironmongery including what is probably a screw down contact from a Field telephone and a spectacular chromed hub cap- yet to be properly identified.
It is clearly very large and we have not been able to either find an edge or bottom it out so the question remains is it a feature of another kind which was then used as a dump before being back filled?

Rock and Lisa's trench is looking more- well- trenchy. Now we know what to look for and that the Sand Bags are the give away it is clear it is a narrow trench running sometimes straight, sometimes in shallow traverses [Zig Zags] up the hill. It may link up with the T Shaped trench Rod's team have been digging.

The T shaped trench is also looking very interesting. It is a known Home Guard/Infantry Section Trench Shape and covers a strategically important approach along Eaglesfield Road had any attacking force attempted to Flank the known position at "The Bull," on the summit of Shooters Hill.

It also covers a pronounced break of slope between Eaglesfield Road and what is known as Eaglesfield Meadow. The road is terraced in and a concrete revetment means there is a drop of around 2m + to the meadow which would make a perfect tank trap. The Royal Engineer and Royal Artillery Officers who planned this part of Stop Line Central knew exactly what they were doing.

It has however been commented that to have the Home Guard Battalion HQ in Lowood, the Shooters Hill Golf Club, Club House, which is on the forward slope of the Hill facing the likely axis of attack, made less military sense. The consensus among the Soldiers and ex Soldiers on the DDA team was that as a military position it probably had a very good cocktail cabinet.

The WW1 Gun emplacement just continues to amaze and provoke, passionate, discussion. The team have done a great job cleaning it back and we know have most of the key elements but the phasing of it is proving controversial- some argue that the screeded floor and mounting ring in situ is Phase One from 1915, while others take the view that it is the roughly cast second mount which came first. I know what I think but I will keep that for tomorrows blog. What is clear is that this is a unique structure and, as far as first World War Archaeology goes an important one.

We had a steady stream of visitors today and we ran a couple of tours of the site as a dress rehearsal for tomorrows Open Day. Pat Greenwood and Brian her photographer, also visited to cover the Dig for Greenwich Time a local newspaper and I got accused of a Gordon Brown moment when I asked for some additional token women to take part in a group shot. Problem was, with the exception of Filiz the team on the trench, was all male and I had just gone out of my way to explain to Pat that Conflict Archaeology is not an exercise in Boys Toys, but involves many women today who reflect the many women who took on active roles in the two World Wars, not to mention on the Home Front.

We also had a visit from Steve, Robbie and Tony from the 10th Essex Living History Group and Historic Military Vehicles Trust. The Lads from 10th Essex are putting in an appearance at the Open Day tomorrow and if you haven't seen them before, or are interested in top quality Living History do come and meet them. We will also have another excellent living history presentation from Chris Gosling representing the RAF personnel who crewed the Barrage Balloon site. Living History and Preservation groups like the HMVT, are just as much a part of the DDA Team as Academics and Field Archaeologists

We are there all day and the Open Day Proper is from 12.30-4.00. Come if you can as it is the last chance, for a while at least, to see a fantastic piece of publicly accessable Great War Archaeology.

One last note- Martin and Anne Roseveare dropped in tonight and I was happy to stand them, as ArchaeoPhysica, a drink. First because Thomas a member of their team, was back again with a Total Station, taking locations and levels on all the trenches, but also because their Geophysics at Eaglesfield, and interpretation of it, was right on the money. Thanks everyone.
Andy B
19 June 2009

And just to re-confirm. Tomorrow is our community open day. From 12.30 members of the team will be available to walk the site and explain what we have been doing and what we have discovered. Please come along and have a look and a chat.

Some images from today

No comments:

Post a Comment