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Antoinette The Diligent

A quieter month than June but still working on the cells of Pit ‘N’.

Later years when we were working with Tony in the summer we knew that other members of the family visited Tony and her brother at Quex for the holidays.  This may have been the reason why Tony worked for only six days this month at Minnis Bay, but still ensured that her recent work was in order and protected.

 Thursday 8th July

With Dorothy took top off cell 1 and enlarged this of very little depth tho’.  L shaped at present and alongside cell 2.  Covered 2 bits wood of first round digging with plastic.  Filled in with rather small chalk.  Finds a couple of long bones, 1 ends broken, a few scraps pot – one cut thro previously to retrieve sherd – red and grey.

  •  [Covering finds with plastic, old washed plastic fertilizer sacks, was to protect large finds from the layer of chalk blocks with which she backfilled the pits after each day’s work.  The plastic also helped to speed up emptying the pit to continue the excavation.  Quite often the blue plastic acted as a marker for the pit.  Some local people remember seeing these tags of plastic poking out of the sea bed.]

 Friday 9th July

Continued straightening up this cell.  The small one no. 2 filled very black fill very obvious and incorporated.

 Sunday 11th July

Cell 2 E side of hard brown ‘iron pan’ covered bank in pit N.  With Dorothy – rained – More wood.  Twisting branch crosses over outer piece of wood and bone etc.  A bulgy pot rim large sherd nestled beside the branch.    About 1’0 down square & round little posts.  Minor leaks all directions W. S. E & N.  My weight kneeling on S [south] edge caused it to fall in = baulk between cells too thin I guess.  Larger chalk supply nearby running very low.  North edge too clean or near chalky bottom therefore leaky – edge slopes then goes down abruptly I think.

  •  [Water leaking back into the excavation meant constant mopping up with sponges and in severe cases bailing or pumping out.  Clay was sometimes brought in to help plug the leaks.]

 Tony at a typical day’s dig on Minnis Bay sea bed at low tide.  Note: front right a bucket of clay next to the hand pump. To the rear left chalk blocks and right a blue fertilizer bag.  Next to the two yellow buckets is an Oxo tin for finds.

 Wednesday 14th July

Evening.  Pink [pot] rim, thin whiteish coating.  Collected large chalk from rocks off ‘hotel steps’.  Got Miss Conolly’s reply and two further samples – dug up bracken found and a stem packed up.  [Samples were for Miss Conolly for flora analysis.]

  • [Chalk blocks were all over the foreshore and these had to be collected up, sometimes from quite a distance away from the pit – both time consuming and hard work.  Often Tony rather than opening up a pit would spend the time preparing the pit for the next day’s work by ensuring there were enough chalk blocks nearby to backfill the enlarged pit].

 Saturday 24th July

With Dorothy B opened and cleaned out cell 13 started to enlarge it towards N & S sides.  Covered large baulk wood on bottom – little soggy post sloping East side in white clay.  Large bone vertical left in side top end.  Sea end to half way little chalk pretty tough and dry some greenish yellow tannish stain.

 Sunday 25th July

Collected bone and cleaned up a bit I think nil entered. 

  •  [This entry was probably written up some days later].   

  Next month. With all the pieces of pot recovered from the cells of pit N Tony consults with experts to confirm that Pit N can be dated to about 2500 years ago and is of the Early Iron Age period, 500 – 50 BC.


Antoinette Powell-Cotton (1913-1997) Debutante, nurse, midwife, African explorer, anthropologist and passionate local archaeologist, was the youngest daughter of Major Percy Powell-Cotton, of Quex Park, Birchington, Kent.







Comments (1)

  1. Beryl bryant:
    Sep 10, 2015 at 06:58 PM

    The entries I have read so far are great- takes me back a bit, especially the blue plastic poking out in the sand! Not sure who Miss Connolly is? Beryl

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