Day two and the sun was still shining despite the forecast of rain, although diggers were subjected to a blast of sleet after the lunchbreak, which came as a bit of a surprise. A further trench was opened this morning, with the arrival of three further volunteers, bringing the total number of trenches to four. Within a couple of hours finds started to emerge, including pottery, but also some fragments of burnt deposits and a few pieces of ironwork.
Despite the quiet and tucked-away location of Vinnimore, a group of walkers found their way to the site and enjoyed a tour of the buildings by Marc Steinmetzer, archaeologist at Oakford Archaeology, the contractors leading the excavation. Whilst the human walkers were distracted, their dog took the opportunity to rummage around the pile of rucksacks and lunch boxes and snaffle a bag of doughnuts. He looked extremely pleased with himself but it meant there was a serious snack-shortage at mid-afternoon break. (You can watch a short video of Marc (Oakford Archaeology) on the Moor than meets the eye Facebook page).
A large part of the day involved the removal of several large granite boulders from the site. This was done with the assistance of Albert Knott, Reserve Manager for the East Dartmoor National Nature Reserve, a length of steel cable, a winch and a good deal of teamwork. At this stage, it is unclear whether the boulders originally formed part of the building’s structure or whether they were dumped within the building post-abandonment. Either way, they had to go and were carefully, inch by inch, pulled across boards to a safe resting place. Hats off to all those involved –anyone who has tried to shift granite will know how heavy it is.
Finds today were in a similar vein to those found on day one – lots of pottery (predominantly post-medieval) and nails but the floor of the building remains elusive. Hopes of finding a cobbled floor are dwindling but who knows what day three will bring?
Towards three o’clock, those working in trench one made a fantastic discovery. Clearing the area around the fireplace and hearth, revealed the remains of a bread oven set into the side of the wall. Further work will shed more light on this feature but it was a great way to end the day.
Emma Stockley, Moor than meets the eye – Community Heritage Officer