Apologies to any regular readers for the lack of updates in recent months. Sometimes, real life (the day job, especially) intrudes on my ability to spend time on the blog.
What have I been up to? The most important thing has been my summer excavation with the Norton Community Archaeology Group, which occupied six weeks in July and August. Of course, as well as the time spent on site, there was preparation work, including such things as making sure that the Research Design was robust, making sure that everything I needed to do in the office was completed before evacuating it for the summer and generally fretting over the weather. The site is an apparently early henge monument between Letchworth Garden City and Baldock (Hertfordshire, UK), which I first recognised about six years ago. This has been our third season in the field, but the first time we have been able to open an extensive trench, giving us a view of the monument in plan.
I’m relieved to say that it really is a henge (otherwise I’d be blogging about my own bad archaeology), albeit an unusual one. Highlights include the burial of a complete but unusual vessel as one of the last events in the history of the monument (the pot has a collar, like a Collared Urn, but its fabric is fine, like a Beaker, while its decoration resembles Grooved Ware: I said it is unusual!), a small central platform constructed from rammed chalk and the identification of the entrance on the east side. To confuse matters, the site was surrounded by a rectangular ditched enclosure, that I suspected may have been added in the Bronze Age: it turned out to be Roman and was apparently associated with iron working. As well as a ditch, we found the fence line inside it and the gate giving access to the inside.
That was my summer. I’m now back in the office, working on dismantling the Archaeology Gallery displays at Letchworth Museum, which closed to the public on 1 September. This isn’t the usual tale of woe from a local authority museum, though: we’ve closed in preparation for combining Letchworth and Hitchin Museums on a new site, to open in 2014. These are exciting times.
In the meantime, I’m returning to blogging Bad Archaeology. I’ve added a new page to the main site, dealing with the Kensington Runestone, a supposedly Viking runic inscription found in Minnesota (USA) in 1898. This is the springboard for a new blog post, which will deal with “Old World people in the New World before Columbus?”, a huge topic that I will deal with by using three brief case studies. It should be posted in the next day or two.