Buttway Field, St Helen's Church Dig, Cliffe, Kent, Day 13/14

Apologies for the lack of blog yesterday, it has been so frantic on site trying to excavate and record such a large trench with only a few days remaining.... Falling asleep when I got home didn't help :p... Its been really positive within the group today as they realize what a great job they have done in just a few weeks. The trench looks amazing if you appreciate a good trench! I want to thank Gerald from Kent Archaeological society on behalf of the group, for popping in yesterday to help with some great advice, we really appreciate the support of K.A.S.

Onsite today we also received some amazing help from WESSEX archaeology who have already provided the group with training sessions. This time they sent Lisa and Mark (senior field archaeologist) with the gps kit to help us plot and grid the entire Buttway field, we can now place trenches within 5mm for all our future digs.  They stayed onsite to provided advice and support for most of the day and honestly, I have never met 2 more down to earth and experienced professionals. I know I speak for the whole team, old and young when I say thank you to the WESSEX team for helping us make this project a success.  Its great to see this kind of relationship in community archaeology.

The dig itself has produced so much information about our village green, also helping prove the research in terms of the Medieval town of Cliffe. We have now finally begun to see a true picture of what the Resistivity Survey was showing us in terms of archaeology . The high resistivity area shown on the survey is the natural bedrock. It was difficult to interpret because we have overlying building demolition (cuts/fills) in the trench. E.G Chalk/lime mortar, squared chalk blocks. rag stone, face flint.. A very good example of this is in the north section pictured below. 

Although we have established the high resistivity square area is natural, but it doesn't negate the fact the area itself wasn't terraced as a building platform.. This is the only question that remains to be answered here in this area. Over half the trench is now recorded and cleaned, we now have 3 active sections within the trench to finish including an interest ditch in the natural.

The north end by the wall is almost down to the natural bedrock but is still producing finds even in the deepest layers. We were slightly disappointed we didn't find a clear wall lines, but we still know there's a building here... I am sure with magnetometer survey, things will be clearer on how to progress in terms of future digs. The fact we have building features (see below from previous test pits) and natural features interacting, showing on our resitivity survey and now proven in the trench doesn't help!!...

We can see this is a long term project (at least 6 years) and this dig has been fantastic start in terms of finds, I estimate about 30 kilos of finds to clean and process. The finds really have been the star of the show in the past 2 weeks. We have now been digging in Cliffe Parish for 3 years and in all the previous digs, I have never seen the amount and types we were recovering per square meter on the Buttway.

During the dig we have uncovered over 2000 years of local history with Samian ware, shelly ware and basically a local reference collection throughout the medieval period. This I know from what I have seen and has already been I.D, but we have bags and bags still uncleaned, it will take months to process... I will summarize in more detail tomorrow with some more detail on finds and some of the questions we have answered during the dig.

On a more historical research note on Cliffe itself, if you have read this blog and realize we are finding mostly medieval pottery... Its references like this that also help tell the story of the area during this period, added to the fact Cliffe was so important to the Metropolitan church. Now we are finding evidence... 

January 3rd 1326.

Commission to William de Grey and John de Shelvyng to guard all
places along the coast of the Thames between Recolvre, Greyston and Whitstable and search in all places where ships put in, both those entering the realm and those leaving the realm, and to arrest all who are carrying letters prejudicial to the crown, and send such letters with all speed to the king: as he is informed that many persons, to evade the scrutiny of the persons appointed in the several ports for the capture of such letters, are frequently landed there in ships and boats. 
The like to the following in the following places:—

The ports and places in the ports of Gravesend and Clyve (Cliffe) and other places between those towns.

August 15th 1326.

Appointment of Maurice de Brune, Robert de Echynghani, John de Cobham and Roger de Bavent to survey the ships of over 50 tons in the towns and ports of Romenhale, Pevensie, Winchelsea, Rye, Hastings, Hithe, Dovre, Sandwiz, Faversham, Gillingham, Maydenstan, Strode, Clyve (Cliffe), Swannescampe, Grenewiz, Seford and Shorham, and to see that they join Nicholas Kiriel, admiral of the Western fleet at Portsmouth, and that all the lords and masters of the ships of less tonnage are kept in the said towns; and they are to arrest such as have not joined, both ships and men.

Source: King Edward II Patent rolls

The following days will be about finishing the sections within the trench and recording. Brian wins find of the day for some really nice shelly ware (12th century). I want to thank the local community for coming to visit the site, asking questions and showing support. We are on site tomorrow 9.30am/5pm.