Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Big Dig 2014.

Apologies for not posting an account earlier of the Big Dig that took place in August this year but the findings have thrown up more questions than there are answers to. This year's dig was on a much more professional footing with a proper Project Design in place. Using the findings from last year i.e. the ornamental bridge it was theoretically possible to mark out the site of the L-shaped building and thus site our 5 m x 2 m trench more accurately.

The small square 'building' bottom right showed itself to be the ornamental bridge in 2013. Knowing the dimensions and position it was theoretically possible to find the location of the larger building. Using surveyors tapes and a laser level the outline of the larger building was plotted.

In this way it was hoped to be able to position our trench over the larger end of the building, if possible across the wall.
The other information that was used was to take so samples 20 cm down at the supposed depth of the archaeological deposit. These were tested for phosphate as the presence of this compound is always linked with occupation or animal husbandry.

The two darker blue samples on the left indicate a high level of phosphate and came from two places within the proposed trench area. The much paler blue samples on the right were taken from areas adjacent to but away from the site on the North and West sides. The show what may be considered to be an "background" phosphate level. With this evidence the site of the 5m x 2m trench was fixed.

The area was then mown  by contractors and the turf  removed using a turf stripping machine.  The turf was carefully rolled up  and covered in polythene sheeting to keep it  in good condition for relaying.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Coppicing in the Park.

On Thursday 16th of January 5 Friends and volunteers from outside the area started to coppice some young Hazel in the North West corner of the Park. There is some debate as to whether coppicing would have actually taken place on the Park in the 18th-century, but there is little doubt that this North West corner was coppice before the Park came into existence. Some of the ancient hornbeam trees were doubtless incorporated into the Park. Hazel is a relatively short lived tree and the best way to manage it is by coppicing. This means cutting the tree down to near ground level, the following year it will produce a large number of vigourous shoots. These shoots develop into sticks and rods which were typically used for craft purposes including hurdle making and the wattle of wattle and daub walls for buildings. In doing this coppicing we are not only continuing and ancient tradition on the Park but we are also demonstrating a sustainable method of woodland management which can be continued indefinitely into the future.
The trees were cut down to ground level using bowsaws. It is very important to protect the stumps from browsing by rabbits and muntjac, if this is not done then day can severely inhibit the regrowth and possibly threaten the life of the tree. To do this a dead hedge had to be built.
Poles were selected as the felling went along, these were pointed up and driven into the ground in pairs. The tops of the trees were laid in between the paired stakes and finally some “weavers” were used to bind the stakes together. This fence should last long enough to allow the Hazel trees to sprout and grow to a height so that they are out of the way of damage.