Last day at Liss

No Dawn this morning, so Shank’s pony it was. The pony took some whipping but eventually it started on the early walk up to Haslemere station – there are precious few trains to Liss – and a quick trip betwixt the two stations and, beneath glorious, balloon filled skies, I slowly walked to the site. Actually, balloon filled is a slight exaggeration, there was only one but since my ride, when I see one, I see millions.

Since the site is a mere half mile away and my path took me by the church, I wandered round a bit before arriving at the dig just behind John, who was first.

Gradually people arrived and I helped Vietta furl the tent sides and carried a few of the sifting frames across. And I’ve just realised I’ve said nothing about the wonderful sifting frames!

Liss Archaeological Groupss sifting frames

On my many other digs (ok, ok, two) when spoil or loose is sifted, we’ve used small frames with wire netting tacked to it, sitting over a wheelbarrow. This is fine and works perfectly well. However, Liss (and I think John made them) has frames that sit in a raised frame at an easy height, making the sifting so much easier. The kids love it and spend hours creating little pyramids of earth at the base of the wooden ‘tables’. There is also a rather odd swing-like sifting frame which doesn’t really work too well but looks excellent!

At 9 I once more joined Ken and took up where I’d left off yesterday.

Today a group of scouts turned up to work on Colin’s kiln, the construction of which is coming along very nicely though I overheard someone say it is likely to crack when fired up given the speed with which it has been built and the clay being used. I hope not as it’s a lovely bit of construction work and deserves to work.

After morning tea I found some bits of iron slag in my idle trowelling, leading me to suppose that perhaps there had been a furnace (or at least a forge) in the converted aisled hall. This ties in nicely with the fact that these halls, when no longer inhabited by people, became hotbeds of industry.

At lunch Jonathon came over and, very earnestly asked me if I’d replace a woman he had shovelling out his deep pit who, suffering from claustrophobia, was not really doing anything but helping the shovel avoid falling over. Naturally I said yes and, after lunch wandered over. Unbeknownst to me, two guys Jonathon knows from another dig had dropped by and asked if they could help so I was returned to Ken and my growing pile of iron slag.

Trench at Liss roman villa dig

Late in the afternoon Ken wandered along the trench asking for volunteers – I hid beneath my hat – and, getting no response, asked me if I’d like to do some de-turfing. Asked like this, I naturally said ‘no’ and continued trowelling! Fortunately the guy just behind me was volunteered. I say fortunately because he was driving me mad with his almost permanent chatter about musical instruments and the generosity of school music departments.

So my final afternoon passed very pleasantly, stopping just short of bumping bums with the woman trowelling behind me. George even jumped into the trench and did a bit of cleaning up round a posthole.

At close of play, George did his usual summing up and then it was, sadly, time to leave.

The one thing I missed with this dig was camping out for a couple of reasons. Firstly the beer and camaraderie which comes with it and secondly the fact that I normally write up each day as it happens, allowing me a much better recall of events. I didn’t start writing up this dig until the week after I’d left so apologies if it’s not my usual entertaining style. Also it was all too good so there’s not a lot of my sharp, incisive wit!

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