Friday, 26 October 2012

Fieldwork to start post-ex!

Hi all, well we finished up on site in the last week and are really pleased with the preliminary results. Thanks to all the staff, volunteers, land owners and visitors who made the excavation so successful and fun! Hope all the little budding archaeologists will remember their time on site and that their experience will help bring history to life!

On one of our last days we were luckily given a loan of a fork lift and gage by the farmer which enabled us to take some great elevated photos!

Final day - view of Cutting Five!

Elevated view showing all the cuttings at Servants Hill.
So now we have to start work on the post-excavation analyses which will help with interpreting the site. We hope to keep you updated on any important findings along the way and will present a final interpretation of the features recorded during the past month! Any comments or queries please contact us at

Site archive ready for post-ex work!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Open Day!

The Open Day was held on Saturday the 13th and the volunteers, local schools, archaeological societies, Young Archaeologist Club (YAC) groups, visitors to the North Down Museum, friends and neighbours were invited to come along and see what was going on. Fortunately weather was perfect which was great a relief to all. 

There were site tours with all the latest site interpretations being discussed, a display of the finds, including the lovely (possibly incomplete) flint arrowhead and a chance for the Downpatrick YAC to get digging. 

Members of the Downpatrick YAC group getting stuck in!
Nick and a few of the YAC members

A member of Claíomh (a military 'living history' group based in Ireland which re-creates 'live' images of Ireland's past) called William was a huge hit with his armour, swords and clothing from the 17th century.  Claíomh have their own blog at

William from Claíomh showing a sword

Living history is not just for kids!

Experimental archaeology was also taking place with the construction of a willow and turf shelter by Bruce Crawford. He normally makes corracles but was persuaded to turn the technique upside down and try to build a small creat or creel house. He pushed upright willows into the ground and wove other willows round them to form a 'basket'. We experimented with the turves from the excavation, using them to form the walls. We did not quite manage to finish the walls but it really gave us an idea of how quickly a shelter could be built and what the best shape of turves would be.  

Some children had other ideas!

Heather James
Community Archaeologist (Northlight Heritage)

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Site update - Very productive week!

Cutting 5 has been by far the most productive archaeological area at the site. It looks like we might have at least one circular post-built structure here. 

Line of post-holes show the line of a wall/ enclosing feature
There is also a very nice foundation trench at the south-west corner with in situ burnt posts. This is great as we will be able to identify the charcoal and determine what type of wood was used to construct these buildings.

Foundation trench in Cutting Five

Looks like we have a possible ditch in Cutting Four. Lots of burnt stone and charcoal in the primary fill. Hopefully this is domestic waste from the 17th century buildings. There should be charred seeds and charcoal in this that could tell us about the environment and what people were eating on site – very interesting. 

Cutting Four - hopefully will provide some Plantation  period features!

Also a possible cobbled surface is showing in Cutting Two. This is obviously what was picked up in the geophysical survey as an area of resistance. There is a small gully to the side of this at the south-east end of cutting 2 – possibly part of the foundation for a building!

Cobbled surface identified in the geophysical survey!

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Week Three - busy busy busy!

We have 8 school visits this week so we are very busy showing the children around the site. Christina shows all the school children some finds from her reference collection including some animal skulls which really get the attention – all the children think that they are dinosaur bones!!!

The highlight of the school visits is the digging and sieving and the children have been pilling into trench 3 digging away and finding lots of pottery (that has been strategically placed there by Stephen!). Its all a bit of fun really!

Meanwhile digging continues on site and one of our volunteers Ken is getting stuck in!

Ken is sieving hard to try and find some dateable finds! 
Some people are very enthusiastic and have dug themselves substantial features on site!

Stephen digs himself into a hole.
But the digging was worth it as some pottery turned up in Cutting Three!
Cutting Five continues and looks very well at this stage

Recording of Cutting Five is going well!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Preparing for more young archaeologists!

We have two school visits this week and getting ready involves a bit of farm work – laying straw over the muddy ground and arranging the display cabin for the little archaeologists!

Towerview Primary school visited today and had great fun. They had a full site tour and after that they did a bit if digging in Cutting Four, some survey work and finds washing…….

Spreading straw for a safer path to site
Cabin containing display boards, site info and finds trays
Work area  set up for our little archaeologists

New twist from Cutting Five

Well Wednesday brought some sunshine and a bit of a twist in Cutting Five. Rowan discovered a small fragment of early pottery! Further analysis by a specialist will reveal a more accurate date. This may mean that the features in Cutting Five are much older than we originally thought!

A very proud Rowan showing his find!
Fragment of early pottery found in Cutting Five

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Progress is slow but steady

Week Three starts with a cold snap in the air and a spring in our step! Cutting Five continues to look promising. Some post holes and spreads may be the only remaining pieces of a structure that possibly once stood here! Further excavation will hopefully tell us more.

Cutting Five may contain the remains of a structure!
Several volunteers have given up their time to help us excavate at Bangor. Hopefully the experience will be a rewarding one for them. 

Some of the volunteers on site get stuck into Cutting Two