It may have been a bit quiet on the blogging front, but that does not mean to say that nothing has been happening since the last post. So here is a summary of where we have been up to over the last couple of months:
The project historians had a meeting early in August to clarify where we are up to. At this point, it was thought that there were just a few loose ends to tie up with burials and wills, and a visit to Kew by Simon, our historian, to undertake. However, it seems more documents have come to light that will need transcribing! Elspeth will be in touch with the historians soon to organise this.
The graveyard survey has taken off with a flying start thanks to all the wonderful hard work of Margaret and Eric and their band of graveyard surveyors. Since the training in July, a group of volunteers have been meeting every Tuesday in August to survey the graves. I think that by now many of the graves will have been recorded. Margaret and Eric are off having a well-earned rest for the time being and will resume once they are back.
Matthew Hurford of Trent and Peak Archaeology came out to look at the cellar and house and explained what he thought the sequence of events here might have been. Just in brief – we believe the house was built at the end of the 17th Century, which fits nicely with pottery that we have based on initial analysis. It could very well be the one that John Harrison lived in and built (?), perhaps causing him to be in debt. We know from the hearth tax records that the Harrison house had 3 hearths and although we know for definite that the cellar house had one, it could be possible that it had three.
It seems that the roof of the cellar was originally a wooden floor that would have been on the same level as the fireplace and floor to the north of it, that at some point collapsed, perhaps along with the rest of the house. This would have been sometime after 1841 when we know people lived here (1841 census) and before 1879 when no house is indicated on the OS map of this time. Rather than abandon the site completely, it was probably at this time that the vaulted ceiling of the cellar was put in, thus raising the level of the ground above it, and the lintel placed over the entrance, to create a root vegetable store or some such other usable space.
For further details you will have to wait until TPA write their report, which will be made available on the website.
Report on Trenches 1, 3 & 4
Talking of reports, Ian has been busy writing up the report on Trenches 1, 3 & 4, and Trench 2 South. This will be put on the website in due course from where you will be able to download it as a pdf.
Finds processing has been moving on steadily over the summer. All Trench 1 and Trench 2 finds have been done, by which I mean they have been washed, looked at, measured, weighed and put into our online database. John Goodwin, Senior Planning Officer (Archaeology/HER) from Stoke came to Under Whitle yesterday and took the finds from Trench 1, Trench 3 and Trench 4 (although Trench 3 & 4 finds have yet to be put on the database).
He will be looking at all the ceramic material sometime during September and writing a report for us. He also knows a bit about window lead! We will also, hopefully, have a zooarchaeologist looking at the small assemblage of animal bones we have. In addition, Jon will be giving me some catalogues and guidance on glass bottles and metal work, which some volunteers will use to have a good look at some of the material we have of this sort.
One of the most exciting things at the moment is an extra excavation we have been undertaking. Starting last week and going on until Friday, this aims to go deeper on the supposed ‘house platform’ aka Trench 3 than we did in July. Already we have an abundance of finds, mainly ceramics, coming out. We will keep you updated on this as the week goes on.
All the reports on all the excavations and finds will be in by October after which we plan to go back into the primary schools along with inHeritage’s Georgia Litherland in order to create a historical comic. We will also be working closely with Bill Bevan also of inHeritage who will be coming up with some content for interpretation panels, exhibition banners and a trail around the site.
That’s all for now!