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Daily Dig 2011

For the Love of Clay

Jonathon Madge, a second year undergraduate digging at Cosmeston for the second year, loves clay and and King Arthur. He has long sought a way of combining the two, and today he achieves just that in his blog:

Hi my name is Jonathan Madge and I hereby declare this day, ‘Clay Day’. In the North-East corner of our trench red clay layer (2307) revealed a 4­½ ft curving wall segment, possibly that of a baking house or a dovecote. On the western side of the trench green clay context (2323) proved extremely difficult to trowel and equally difficult to remove. For those of you who are unfamiliar with clay count yourself lucky. Clay is frequently annoying to trowel, mattock, shovel, clean back, sieve and also to scoop off your shoes. I should point out that I am not alone in my views. Quotes from the trench today include ‘I hate clay’ (which was followed by the clay being assaulted by a shovel), ‘clay is difficult to deal with, just like life’ and ‘it makes me feel powerful when I mattock it’. Unfortunately clay is a familiar medium in our trench at Cosmeston.

On the left, a group who have already finished mattoking their clay get a well earned trowelling based rest. The team on the right meanwhile are still hard at it.

On the left, a group who have already finished mattoking their clay get a well earned trowelling based rest. The team on the right meanwhile are still hard at it.

Another regularly appearing face is stone. Small stones, big stones, organised stones, rubble stones, stones with fossils, rounded stones, stones that shatter when hit with a mattock and many stones that shatter you when hit with a mattock. Certainly stones are commonly found despite several robber trenches dotted around our site. I was pleased however to discover a small lump of quartz whilst digging earlier today. Although not unfamiliar to the geology of the area, and subsequently not beneficial to our archaeological investigation, the change was well received. As was the variation of the arrowhead found yesterday. Most of our iron finds are corroded forms of nail and so to see the point and hollow of the arrow head was a pleasing sight. Sent straight back to the Conservation department at Cardiff University, we await further information about this interesting find.

After the clay was cleared the team cleaned up, and in the process, discovered the curved wall feature mentioned above

After the clay was cleared the team cleaned up, and in the process, discovered the curved wall feature mentioned in the first paragraph

As always, our other bulk finds mostly consist of animal bone and medieval/ post-medieval pottery but today 60 litres of soil sample was taken for the flotation process and so we hope to gather further information about the lifestyle, particularly the environment and diet, of the population at medieval Cosmeston.

As a brief note on camp-life cheese and biscuits are particularly popular among the masses. Increasing numbers of illnesses are slightly concerning but with the triumphant return of James from his temporary absence, morale remains high. Incessant performances of poor quality Chinese songs, llama antics, Joker impressions, catchphrases and onesies continue to baffle some and entertain others. Generally speaking all is going well.

Despite great efforts I can no longer refrain from mentioning King Arthur and so my final words to you are that M.K.Hume’s historical novel trilogy on King Arthur is actually very entertaining and although his take on the legend is dramatic in nature I can recommend it for fans of Arthurian legends as good bed-time reading.

See you tomorrow guys!

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About Cosmeston Students

We are the student labour at the Cardiff University excavations of Cosmeston Medieval Manor.

Discussion

One thought on “For the Love of Clay

  1. Hi Jonathan, Your blog page is very interesting and very informative Thanks for sharing. I recently bought a book which may interest you called. ” Exploring the World of King Arthur “. by Thames & Hudson…. Written by Christopher Snyder. Best wishes.

    Posted by ritaroberts | August 18, 2011, 12:41 pm

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