A quick update: recent excavation and other busy stuff

Hi All,
I’ve been a bit lax posting of late, this is because i’ve been super busy doing various things. sorting some corrections, filling out job applications and doing a bit of teaching and digging.

The most interesting part of this was of course the digging! I spent 2 weeks helping out on Rick Peterson’s dig at Fairy Holes caves, Bowland. Rick has made several in depth posts on the excavation on his blog shelteringmemory (see the list of links to the left).

The site was somewhat tricky to get to as it involved a steep walk, which was ok when the weather was dry but when it rained we were sliding all over the place.
The site has a large central cave, a small east cave and a very small fissure to the west. Pete also found another smallish cave further down the slope from the main site which he investigated.  The photos in this post were taken on my phone so forgive the dodgy quality!

Below is a photo from the main site looking down the slope, i’m not sure this demonstrates the steepness of the hill so you’ll just have to trust me when I say it was steep!

one of the views down hill from the main site at Fairy Holes

Here’s an image of the main cave taken during the first week of the dig, as you can see we were doing some survey with the total station.  All the soil which was excavated had to be sieved for small finds.  This was important as even with lights it’s quite difficult to in the cave whether something is a an artefact or not.

Fairy Holes, main cave

Heres a photo of the smaller east cave, here you can see Pete just getting into the part of this cave where it opens out (though it’s still small).  In this cave we found mostly animal bones which are relatively recent and not too exotic (rabbit and bird bones!).


In the main cave we found some disturbed evidence of the Early Bronze Age, this included two fragments of collared urn and a couple of small fragments of cremated bone which would originally have been inside the pot.  Below is a photo of a fragment which I found, it’s not the best photo but you should be able to see some lines which are whipped cord impressions.  This pottery is a lot more sturdy than previous E.B.A pot which I have found….it’s actually solid and doesn’t have the consistency of gone off chocolate.

A fragment of Collared Urn from Fairy Holes.

A fragment of Collared Urn from Fairy Holes.

The second and last week of this dig were mostly spent finishing excavations as far as we could, surveying the caves, planning, photographing and my least favourite…backfilling.  Some of my activities that week included planning sections of the small east cave and the  teeny tiny west fissure.  The latter involved a scramble up a steep bit of rock so you could perch precariously and reach into the fissure…I was quite relieved when Rick took over on that one as I was worried I would fall over and get stuck in the V-shaped space in front of the section!.

Here’s one last photo from the inside of the east cave, this was when I was cleaning this for photography, you can see my feet as I had to wedge myself uncomfortably on limestone so as not to mess up my cleaning!

wedged into the east cave

Again for further details of this dig see Rick Peterson’s blog.

This has turned out to be a longer post than I had intended!  I hope to post further soon about some more radiocarbon dates.


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