Antoinette [Tony] - the Resourceful
Tony is still continuing with Pit N. This pit, measuring some 22’ 0” [6.5 m] by approximately 20’ 0” [6m], has proved to be a mammoth task for one person to excavate with only 3 to 4 hours at the most between tides and only occasional help from others. Excavation was also hindered by the weather. Second half of the month, excavation is further hampered by Tony suffering from back ache. However many finds are protected and samples including original pit fill taken for analysis.
Wednesday 1st September
Strong north wind. Sand around N removed. Cleaned out both ends of cell 5 & 6 with John Maydam and Paul – got very little but made a little progress. Self around the yew stump. The boys the far end.
Thursday 2nd September
With Dorothy – Ian senior, John & Ian & Paul. Continued a little with [cells] 5&6. A little broken bone, a few small [pot] sherds – down to 2’0” more chalky and more bits wood – could be we are near the bottom. 1 jawbone remains to be collected.
Saturday 4th September
Cell 5. 12/3 feet [down fill] land end sticky. 11/2 feet [down] to tin gritty layer or patch, a second [patch] a few inches above. Good drying day, south-west wind.
D.B., Denise Pollard and small girl helped. Trowelled down both ends a bit and in spite of leaks managed, really very nice and dry. A lot of finger [sized] sticks and a few larger mostly[lying], east-west direction.
Sunday 5th September
With DB. Lowered inland end cell 5 to near bottom – wood a nuisance. Patch very black material took a little sample. Appears to be a board amongst the sticks this end. DB collected a little pottery sea end by yew stump. Covered wood with foam rubber sheeting as an experiment – yellow flatish wood in centre getting pretty broken up. Seeds from DB’s larger sherds collected and rinsed.
Monday 6th September
Alone – straightened sides from ‘yew’ stump to beginning of wood at far end. Removed ‘Fru’ grain tin of soil. [See August 1965 blog for how empty food tins were used for soil samples]. It was on the bottom or almost so, – there were a few bits of flint – a bone or 2+ and knobs of chalk only about 2’0” down. This cell 5&6 does seem to slope down towards the land. Fill very patchy in places – blob of blue grey silt in brown mud – some sherds – a few bits bone – removed sheep half jaw sticking upright east at beginning of sticks. Bits black beetle near bottom near half jaw. Little sample gritty between stump and west side.
Tuesday 7th September
With Denise Pollard. She drew plan of cell 5&6 and section of silt and garden soil below. Dug out a good deal of remaining soil with spade – all very muddy and watery – Took out all the wood – the larger pieces all split ‘posts’. One down centre horizontal and 2 others land end of cell 5 appear to have been pointed off. Could not see that the larger one lying diagonally from SE bank to centre (called the board) had a socket on the chalk floor but it may have done. Part of this last remains in the east side baulk about a quarter [way] up – cut off with trowel. These were under the triangular grindstone. Amongst them was one long ?birch stick, diameter about half an inch – length about 2”0” and (guess at home!) all stakes with bark. I guess fencing or some such thrown away - ?root from centre of cell to inner west side appeared split but not in actual fact I think. I do not think the split stakes were halves of the same post in any case.
Saturday 18th September
Back ache therefore gently looked for tin samples by hard wood baulk and sawed through baulk below surface timber east side of N taking sample about 23/4” thick. Saw needed but not too hard work in pit. Sample taken at much the same line as the site of the cut in the top timber – this narrower and chiseled out in pieces not sawn. One tin sample is still in situ below the slit in top timber i.e. just below this wood and above the other. Other tin higher level beside the baulk, from surface level see ‘photo’. [see August blog photo]
Mild gale last evening – did not reccy bay
Sunday 19th September
Slides. Mr Maidam [the correct spelling for the ‘Maydam, Maidmom’ family] and colour transparencies showing (I hope) from west side 2 tins in situ. From east side I think Top Timber newer cut space. Hard baulk wider gap below base of top timber resting on white line silt but lower end white above timber and appears to have jumped over this. The lower hard baulk covered by white at this sea end. It does seem that the filling below the white line to the bottom (at present) is much more chalky west of the timber. On the east almost ‘pure’ silt putty fawn without bits chalk or other ‘foreign bodies’ a few flint flakes in the fill immediately below the top timber (i.e. in the white ‘silt’ with second working}. Collected 2 cuts timber from top timber - & 2 little pieces of soil; with very white fungus from baulk. Denise did drawing. Popped wood from cell 6 in plastic bag with label, also bag with upper end of of top timber sawn free. Kept wet these woods should survive. Last neg: no 8 colour – a dud – took it by mistake.
Monday 20th September
Top timber 41/4” thick
Hard baulk 5” thick tapers
Black and white film Kodak.
Sawed through hard baulk again near silt block between silt block cell 14&15. Collected 2 soil sample tins – 1/4lb of white silt at top beside top timber . 2nd 1/2lb tin from beside hard baulk (below top timber). Used rod with spirit level in photo to show slope of white silt band. The chalky ‘find likely’ layer does begin East of the wood but slopes down lower on this side.
A small round piece wood broken off beside hard baulk on East side.
Tuesday 21st September
Cleared out cell22 very foul, black and smelly. Packed wood up with foam rubber large piece thick sponge and 2 sheets [old bed sheets]. Unfortunately [back] filling is all with small chalk and my back does not encourage carrying [large] chalk [lumps] just now. Last few days wonderfully dry foreshore. [A rare occurrence]
Wednesday 22nd September
Neg 3 &4 cell 22 woods looking south to promenade – sandstone at top of foot rule ‘plank’. Appears to be ‘good peaty fill’ beneath ‘plank’ – used rod with spirit level again for photos. Helped fill in by Jan Clements & Mrs C. Collected little square of fill packing hole in plank, pushed through with hand therefore a bit remoulded. Some of the horizontal lengths of wood rather smashy. [Field Book 17 Page 49 as wording on illustration below]
Thursday 23rd September
With Dorothy and Denise came just at dusk, made sketch of plank and 50 woods, helped fill in etc. Took away chunk of fill from top including ‘elbow’ wood and another plus 2 other pieces down to the plank and one slice from below plank about its width. The latter outer contaminated side down most chalky grit surface next plank and the other side cut with long trowel of the piece above plank in 2 parts - sticky on top with sherd was at the woods ends against fill baulk between cell1 and co and cell 22. The thinner gritty part further west resting on the plank and inclined to break up. The first larger piece of fill is a queer shape cos of the sloping plank. This goes down into bucket nose first at present. This is at least some pottery in the fill. Flints were a bit of a nuisance. Used large trowel to slice out the lumps and 2 thin pieces board to support lumps. Pottery all black. One piece from hole at bottom down below plank.
Friday 24th September
Good tide Sept equinox! Twin irons dry. Collected small charcoal on surface of soil sample with flint flakes – also a bitty sample from F & P area. Grey and pink samples also. F.F. [Far flats Neolithic site] site showing well with EBA[Early Bronze Age] sherd site included.
Saturday 25th September
At dusk. Collected lump with acorn in cup on top from patch of “?oak forest” this about 28 paces long. ?Half the width. Piece broken off hollow log (easily) furthest north of FF - a few twigs. Piece of soil with oysters etc very near EBA sherds find and a tin sample of bitty twiggy bit about 2’0” away –Picked up one little stake from FF area lying horizontal, pointed end well in blue ‘bunga’
Monday 27th September
EBA site to oyster etc sample about 3 paces.
EBA site to bitty 1.5 paces. Bitty to oyster etc 2 paces
Removed ?chestnut paling half stake 38 paces to promenade ie west end of middle butts between 4th breakwater 20 paces west of bastion of groin beginning breakwater. Stake seems very fresh and modern – reddish bark, creamish underneath – stuck in good blue bunga – put big Frugrain tin around and took it up with surrounding ’soil’. Stuck bamboo beside space I’ve made and replaced bits of blue [bunga] removed in order to remove tin – down to 10” I suppose – lower part of stake bark skinned off.
First of the spring tide according to timetable but a poor one! Whole of split palings not uncovered. Collected 2 sherds from centre of worm diggings several bones – ditto. Collected piece of grassy peaty dark soil from near wreck west to east.
Collected various twigs etc including piece off ?little stake from near EBA site. FF also double ‘silt’ bivalve shell. Collected 1 piece ?iron smelt from centre nearish wreck. Saw a lot of clinker in one patch centre W thrown up by worm diggers.
Next month ……….. Tony’s activity has obviously been hampered by her back problem. Also you may have noticed how much she has relied on ‘rough estimate’ paces for measuring between areas. At a Field Archaeology Conference she meets up with Harold Gough ‘wanted to introduce Mrs. Gibbons – who designed the museum extension.’ !!! presumably towards achieving more accurate measured surveying techniques.
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.