Due to health and safety concerns the excavation of the ditch in Trench 3 had to be halted as it is now 1.5 metres deep. The ditch being so deep and steep sided lends to the theory that it is a defensive feature associated with O’Doherty’s Tower. John and Sean were then able to begin excavation of the bank which allowed us to reveal the extent of the revetting wall and expose the original ground surface beneath the bank. It is hoped that this deposit will provide very useful dating evidence.
Revetting wall and original ground surface in Trench 3
Some very exciting discoveries were made while excavating in Trench 4 today. Layers or buried burnt earth and stone continued to be excavated from the bank material at the north-western end of the trench. A fine and intact example of a flint end-scraper, which would have been a used as a tool by people in prehistoric times, was uncovered from this layer along with a rectangular stone object. After careful examination this object has been noted to be smoothed in places and scored with fine lines in others, with two definite grooves at one end. From careful observation of these wear patterns we have identified the object as a whetstone (used for sharpening metal blades). The layer associated with these artefacts was also rich in large fragments of charcoal and many small fragments of burnt bone; therefore it was necessary to sample the material for further analysis and extraction of material which can then be used to provide a radiocarbon date for this layer within the bank. Many thanks to Denise, Eilis, Caolan, Connor and Bettina for all their hard work, especially with the careful sieving of all the excavated material today, picking out everything that could be missed in the swift removal of bank material.
Flint scraper and whetstone found in Trench 4
Over in Trench 5, we began the excavation of the clay layer. This layer appears to be coming down onto the natural subsoil, into which the second post hole is cut. That post hole will be excavated tomorrow. In the south-west end of the trench, we are still following the slope of what we think is the natural subsoil down from the rocky outcrop. It is still diving down, and we are getting closer and closer to thinking we may have some sort of ditch here! Tomorrow will hopefully shed some more light on this. Many thanks to Clare, Jan, Conall and Li for all their help.
Excavation of the clay layer in Trench 5