Combs, Walls and Knives- Week Two.

Our second week of our Aberlady Angles project has been just as exciting as the first! Our focus for this week was to try and fully understand the story of our site before our final day of excavating on Sunday 8th May.

One of our archaeologists Lisa training our volunteers in archaeological photography

Our trench is starting to come together, as our team of archaeologists and volunteers work hard to define and understand the various features we have within it. These features must be interpreted, and to do so confidently we must ensure we try to recover good evidence for dating our features. This will help us understand the sequence of the site, as well as provide a general chronology. Our team must plan where to invest our effort to give us the best understanding when we finish our excavation. More interpretation happens after excavation when our finds and samples are returned to our team of conservation and environmental experts in our Edinburgh laboratory to further process our exciting finds.

Although this is an ongoing process, we would love to share some of the features and finds we’ve been uncovering here. As followers of the project will be aware, Aberlady Conservation and History Society, AOC Archaeology Group and our team of volunteers entered the Glebe field prepared to possibly unearth evidence of an Anglian period timber hall. Archaeologically, this would likely be represented by negative features (features which would have once been in the ground, and after removal or decay it is only the ‘imprint’ left of a ditch or posthole for us to record and examine). This requires understanding of soil changes and colours, as we move from one context (archaeological layer of depositional activity) to the next.

This is not exactly what we found! However, this is the nature of archaeology and it just left us more of a mystery to solve- but we have uncovered is turning out to be incredibly exciting.

Our large stone feature

We have found a large stone feature  which appeared to originally be creating a ‘flat surface’. This has created quite a talking point for us archaeologists and volunteers, discussing whether it is a track or pathway between the church and the coast, or whether it could be a wall of a substantial building.

The paved area.

Our team have also uncovered an area of paving, at the south end of the large stone feature. There is a gap in the paving, which excavation has showed there is a lack of lining or a base.

Our smaller stone areas. Cleaning has helped us understand the relationship between the various features in this area 

We also uncovered an area of smaller stone features. After some hard work by our team, and very delicate trowelling and cleaning,  we are starting to see alignments and walls within this area.

One of our archaeologists Lisa training our volunteers in archaeological photography

Within this area, we have been finding quantities of large animal bone and shell. We have also found a beautiful decorated bone comb as well as a piece of bone which we believe was a broken attempt at production of such a comb- but continued to be used to practice decoration. Alongside this, we have been finding antler which may suggest these smaller areas could have been used as an area for industry.

We have also found two small iron knife blades- one lying above this large stone feature, and one within these smaller stone features. These knives are small and could have potentially be used for leatherworking- and range in date throughout the medieval period.

The most exciting thing about this whole project is that none of this archaeology has ever been recorded before. Our team are adding completely new information to the archaeological record- which not only helps us understand and tell the fantastic story of Aberlady’s heritage, but also helps us to understand our chronology on a wider scale.

Our final workshop will take place tomorrow- Saturday 7th May- at 10:00 and will focus on Archaeological Conservation of objects. This will look at the processes after excavation, and our Head of Conservation Gretel Evans will discuss how our team takes care of objects such as those found on our excavation. As always, these workshops are free. There will also be a chance to look at the site after the workshop, as we will run a site tour at around 12:00.

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