Another fantastic day on site and we are now already half way through the excavation. It is quite amazing what twelve volunteers can achieve in that amount of time!
Despite the chilly start everyone were soon working hard to reveal yet more fascinating features about the site. The two main areas of progress to report on today include the discovery of a second, rather fine fire place and, at last, a small area of surviving flooring.
The fireplace has been found under the granite rubble of the eastern wall. The tumble comprising of large granite blocks meant that the archaeologists and the winch had to work hard again today. However their efforts have been rewarded with a well-constructed fireplace with a dressed back wall. A large vertical granite slab forms one of the fire chimney “hoods” but the one on the other side, if surviving, remains hidden under the rubble. A hearth slab with scotch and burning marks has also been exposed. Based on the evidence so far it looks like this fireplace is very similar in size and construction as the other on set within the opposite, western wall. Given the dressed back wall and the lack of a bread oven it is possible this fire place would have heated the main living room.
Further work in and in front of the western fireplace has exposed more of the hearth stone and, joy of joys a small area of rough stone flooring. The flooring may define a small “hearthstone” in front of the main fire place. On what can be seen so far it probable that this fire place with its bread oven served the kitchen area.
So half way through the dig and we are beginning to obtain a clearer picture of the site. The large room in which our main trench is located, is likely to have been the main farmhouse, sub-divided into two chambers, each with its own hearth. The two rooms were probably separated by a wooden partition, and given the thickness of the walls there may have been an upper floor but we have yet to reveal definite evidence.
Elsewhere we have opened up a new trench in the open ended “lean to” structure. No flooring has been revealed so far but the volunteers have been recovering the occasional sherd of late C18th to mid C19th pottery. This date range for the pottery is now appearing to be the norm for site giving us a good indication for when the site was occupied.
Another trench outside the building has also been opened up to explore the ramp of material against the outer walls. Despite initially being thought to be composed of collapsed wall tumble the lack of stone is causing some pondering! One theory is that this ramp of soil could have been for flood protection for when the nearby river Bovey was in spate.
by Andy Crabb DNPA archaeologist