June 2006 – Exciting Finds
June 2006 – Exciting Finds
Well as usual the site has turned up something totally unexpected! We have been clearing the debris of the hovel as I said in my last diary, because the spoil heap we are soon to move is right next to it.
The first few days were taken up by mattocking tons of daub from the hovel and slate from its roof. Last weekend however, we got down to the narrow passage behind the hovel and the lime ash floor of the hovel and brought back to the finds room a wheelbarrow of mixed pottery from Medieval to Victorian.
Half way through the morning Linnea one of our regulars shouted "look at this!"
We all looked round to see her holding in her hand what looked like a white duck egg.
After the initial shock we realized it was just a ceramic egg. The type farmers put in the nesting boxes of their chickens to encourage them to lay.
Later that morning Dave found an Iron musket ball and an 18th century clay marble and a few bits of an old shoe and more pottery.
It was not till later that the totally unexpected find was excavated. Dave stopped and picked up what at first looked like a flint hand axe. I took it to the pot washing room to clean it and realized it was not flint, but obsidian!
I walked back to the site and said to them it's not flint and all their faces dropped and then I said its Obsidian!
They all looked at me in amazement. As far as I know Obsidian hand axes are associated in Britain with the Palaeolithic (old Stone Age) or earlier.
What you have to understand is the mixed context we are dealing with. When the farmer decided to make his new track in the 1950's by moving the rubble of the ruined hovel, he would have initially scraped away a large amount of topsoil around the area he was working in.
Then he would have pushed the rubble of the cottage up against the bank and after there was enough space for his track he would have covered this with the topsoil pile.
He would have had to do this to get the grass to grow on it again quickly. So we can assume that he got this topsoil from was relatively close to the hovel itself.
In those days poor Cornish smallholders would only have a small Massy Ferguson tractor with a bulldozer attachment on it, so he would not have moved it far.
This means that somewhere nearby we could have a Palaeolithic working area or habitation area waiting for us to discover.
We are borrowing some geophysical equipment in the next few weeks so we can do an extensive survey of the area around the hovel and see what turns up.
We have however found other Palaeolithic hand tools on other areas of the Saveock site made out of quartz. So the theory that it was a Palaeolithic site is gaining credibility.