THIS IS HOW IT WORKS  – or – when its all over how do they know where all the finds came from in the site.  Those who can spot a boring old lesson coming up can now close there eyes. 

First of all someone undertakes a Geophysical survey of the area.  Triangulation survey points are set in place and a level of the area is taken. 

On the East Wear Bay site everything is slipping towards the sea and at the same time rolling over on itself – VERY TRICKY. 

After the topsoil has been removed layers of archaeological soil start appearing. 

Now – PAY ATTENTION THIS IS IMPORTANT – These layers appear and are recorded  in sequence, latest at the top and earliest at the bottom. 

Each layer receives a number that relates to the site. 

Within the layers we find Special features – Post Holes, Rubbish Pits, Clay Pits, Hearths.  These are also given a number relating to that level.  

So far at Folkestone we have used about 730  numbers – I get tired at the thought of it. 

Each feature and special find has to be carefully recorded and accounted for in the site notes. 

Its taken me nearly two years to cotton on to the fact that all the special finds are entered on to different coloured A4 sheets of paper along with notes about them. 

So I investigated. 

White  – For each layer of soil

Blue     –  For Walls

Pink     –  Pits and ditches etc

Yellow – Special finds in the various levels.

Red      – All small special finds 

Each layer or level is plotted and drawn on to a graph sheet made of special  plastic  which is supposed not to decompose and any small finds  such as Coins, Tools, Jewellery, special pottery are recorded on to the graph sheet in the position that they were found. 

To supplement the plans an A4 sheet of descriptive notes is filled out for every layer recorded. 

We end up with many graph sheets and if you place them in order, one on top of the other and look down through them you would see in 3D where each find is located. 

Like a transparent layer cake with goodies embedded in it.   

All this recording is important and takes time, which is why the digging is sometimes held up.  In order of importance, recording far outweighs digging. 

Diggers who hassle site surveyors run the risk of having SOMETHING happening to them.  All excavation is destruction so we must have detailed notes.   

When we have finished the site will be empty of artefacts but we will have a complete picture of all the occupations and history of the site all neatly tucked into our layer cake.  

Digging without making all these detailed and accurate records is a – HANGING OFENCE – or worse still singles one out as not being a  – ‘PROPER ARCHAEOLOGIST’

I hope you understand all that 

The others can open their eyes now 









This post is in: Digger's diary