22 Jul 2012
The British summer finally lived up to its name today; fierce sunshine at times making digging uncomfortable. Fortunately there wasn’t too much heavy work to do and we were again treated to unexpected and enigmatic archaeology.
Yesterday’s extension into the dark “occupation” layer revealed yet another unexpected, curvilinear wall. This wall abuts the east end wall of the building, which we also located, and curves in the direction of yesterday’s very substantial wall in the middle of the trench.
21 Jul 2012
Today’s sunshine was a welcome contrast to yesterday’s weather and allowed us to make great progress both excavating and planning the main trench. The archaeology seems only to get more complex the more we reveal – what looked like a brick surface emerging in the south-west corner yesterday turned out in fact to be a very substantial wall, running parallel to the smaller wall we first identified.
20 Jul 2012
Despite the persistent drizzle all day today we got a lot of work done and have expanded our main trench to further explore the walls and floor surface first uncovered yesterday.
The mortared surface with the circular pit cut into it is bounded on the north side by a small well preserved wall. The surface itself is only a fairly narrow strip with a straight edge running parallel to the wall which looks like a robbed-out wall line. The mortar surface may therefore represent the floor of a corridor within a building.
19 Jul 2012
Another slightly puzzling but nevertheless interesting day today. We opened another quick-fire trench just to the east of the wall we uncovered yesterday, expecting to find it continuing east, but instead found another nondescript pebble and rubble surface.
This, combined with the lack of wall in the first trench we opened, paints a confusing picture of the building we are now certain exists here. These apparent gaps may be explained by the building having a more irregular plan than we thought, for instance if it was L shaped rather than rectangular, or there may yet be a more subtle explanation.
At the far east end of the building, we have opened a trench on what ought to have been its north-east corner. The archaeology in this trench is by far the most complex we have encountered this week, already revealing palace demolition material, a mortared floor cut by a circular pit, and no less than three potential walls, only one of which lies on an anticipated alignment! Due to its complexity, this will become the focus for our weekend dig and will be enlarged and explored further tomorrow. Unlike the other trenches, we have permission to fully excavate here to the full depth of the archaeology and so hopefully we will be able to get a better picture as to the layout and function of the building.
18 Jul 2012
Today was a day of mixed results. A small test pit near the first trench we cut yesterday stubbornly refused to yield a wall but a new trench cut in the avenue did reveal the north side of our enigmatic structure. This is the first time we have seen the north side of the building, and confirms its speculated width of about six metres.
As to the building’s function, we are still not certain but are guessing at some sort of agricultural structure like a barn, possibly with accommodation for laborers at one end.
17 Jul 2012
This year’s big dig on the site of Elsyng Palace got off to a good start today. Continuing our events in celebration of the Festival of British Archaeology, we will be digging all week, with a public event on Sunday.
Our strategy this year is for a series of small quick-fire trenches in the area of the lime tree avenue, in pursuit of a possible post-palace structure, culminating in a larger targeted excavation at the weekend. We have previously had very little idea about what happened immediately following the palace’s final demolition between 1656 and 1657, and so any work we can do to fill in this gap in the history is important for understanding the site.
15 May 2012
Limited excavation of two trenches further studied two features encountered in an excavation in 2010. One is most likely to have been a robber trench along the line of the curtain wall of the palace, but what was thought to be a possible palace phase lean-to structure fronting it appears instead to have been a large free standing structure of circa 1657, post dating palace demolition. This raises significant new questions about the use of the site in the later seventeenth century.