Today we have a special guest blog from Sarah, one of our trainee archaeologists from weeks 1 and 2 of We Dig York 2022! For more information on the We Dig training programme, check out this section of our website.
I was fortunate to be a part of the 2022 We Dig (formerly Archaeology Live) for two weeks at Willow House. It had been a good six years since my last excavation, where I was a part of the Community Stadium Dig uncovering evidence of a Roman training fort. I found a small piece of pottery and not much else.Unlike that excavation, the first week was incredibly hot, and starting with the fun task of cleaning up the site to see if there were any features. I was in between two potential features, so ended up having to move to another area. Second area was where I found a cow tooth, and a few pieces of 19thC sewage pipe. Yet I was in an area which was near the entrance of the site, realistically I needed to be moved again, to what became known as “fishy pit” along with Amanda (trainee). A swelteringly hot week, digging up a small bit which ended up with a few treasures. The first small find was almost lost, a small lace tack/weight used to weigh down the trim of a dress. I mistakenly thought it was a small thin piece of branch and so was unimportant. (oops) There was a great deal of animal bone, some pottery, and surprise surprise fish bones, and my favourite thing, a small piece of a tile with a paw print on it.
The second week, Max joined the team, we had all the rain, but at least we didn’t have to water any of the archaeology.
We also had to learn how to share the one site sponge, spoons and ladle to get all the water out of the pits so we could do some digging. Working with Enya, we found the pit, just got deeper and deeper. After we managed to get the water out, we also found our first pretty thing, half of a jet bead. My first ever really cool thing that I found, needless to say myself and Enya were very happy. Then the finds kept coming, taking soil samples after seeds were found, along with snail, oyster and mussel shells, or more accurately, fragments of shells were found. The weather did pick up, and became sunny, where we found lots more mediaeval and Norman gritty ware pottery, so we could accurately assume that our pit, which was going on forever, was medieval. The last day was fun yet tough due to the conditions, knowing that we never did work out why someone would dig a long narrow pit, which had all of the stuff they no longer wanted. Too deep for a rubbish pit, and no poo was found, although we did get a lovely smell from time to time which could have suggested it was used as a toilet.
All in all a good experience, one I would do again, found some cool things. However I now know that I am not the greatest at doing site plans, so you may not want me to do any in the future.