Flodden Hill Site 1, Trench 5 2014 - Site note: Jenny
Tuesday, 24 June 2014
Flodden Hill Site 1, Trench 5 2014 - Site note: Jenny
(Composite plan of Trench 5 showing the location of excavations over 2012, 2013 and 2014)
The objective of the 2014 season at Site 1 was to further investigate the large stone feature (221) discovered in Trench 5 across the north-eastern rampart in the final days of the 2013 excavation. Initially a trench approximately 10m by 4m was laid out. As the removal of backfill progressed it was realised that this area was over-ambitious for the time and resources available so the length was reduced to approximately 7.5m east to west. This took in the western part of the areas of Trench 5 excavated in 2012 and 2013 and also included part of Trench10 (2012). The trench took in two previously undug areas - on its north side, an irregularly-shaped area on top of the rampart, and a narrow strip down the southern side of the trench. The areas of excavation and the main features uncovered are illustrated in the figure.
In 2013 about 1.80m of the feature (221) was exposed. It comprised large side stones and a single surviving in-situ capstone. Running west from the capstone through the rampart appeared to be the edges of a cut (context 222), suggesting that the feature had been inserted into the rampart. Further excavation in 2014 revealed more side stones (context 2014/18) but no further capstones. Significantly, the outer edges of the side stones were found to be overlain by the 'rampart' material forming the sides of the cut, suggesting this was deposited secondarily. The stones forming the south side appeared to continue, although probably disturbed, through to the inner side of the rampart, where there was a break in the formal facing stones. On the north side there were only three side stones.
Excavation of the previously undug area on top of the rampart uncovered another stone feature (2014/24), similar to and converging with (221) at its western end. The relationship between the two features at the point where they met was unclear, though the south side-stones of the new feature appeared to meet, or to branch from, the northern side stones (2014/18). At the west end of the new feature two large capstones (2014/6) were set about 0.40m apart and the space between was filled by smaller angular stones in dark soil. A few more capstones, somewhat smaller and evidently disturbed, continued a short distance down the outer side of the rampart ending just inside the west end of the 2012 trench. All but the westernmost capstone were removed. Underneath the latter, smaller stones were packed in in an apparently random fashion, but apart from this the new feature was defined, like (221), by side-stones along its length (2014/22). A small piece of copper alloy was recovered from the fill of this feature.
At the eastern end of (2014/24) and converging with it was yet another similar feature, though built on a somewhat less substantial scale. Two capstones of this third feature were removed to enable a sample of the fill to be taken, but it was not systematically or completely excavated. Samples of fill were also taken from the other two features.
A stone-lined post-hole was found on top of the rampart on the south side of the trench (see figure). It was approximately 0.2m across and appeared to be in excess of 0.4m deep. A similar feature was found in Trench 10. It is possible that these were settings for a line of posts along the top of the rampart.
A 2m square extension was laid out on the south side of the trench adjacent to the last surviving south-east side stone of (221), where similar large-sized stones appeared to extend under the side of the 2013 excavation. This whole area was very much disturbed by tree roots and animal burrows. The large stones were found to continue diagonally across the extension, running on into its south-west corner and forming an outer face to the rampart, two or three courses in height.
The only datable finds recovered were a large piece of, probably, iron-age pottery from amongst the tumble in front of the inner face of the rampart, a much smaller piece from the root-disturbed area adjacent to the extension and a shotgun cartridge from the very disturbed area around the eastern end of stone feature (221). Interestingly another shotgun cartridge was recovered from the same area in 2013.
The date and function of the original stone feature (221) remains unknown and its relationship with the rampart is unclear. In 2013 it was thought that its construction cut through the rampart material. An apparent gap in the masonry of the inner face of the rampart coinciding with the westernmost side stones might support this suggestion. However, the fact that the side stones were not wholly contained within the cut (222), being overlapped by ‘rampart’ material suggests a more complex sequence. It may pre-date the ‘rampart’, or be contemporary with its construction, and the cut may represent the later robbing/removal of the capstones along this part of the feature.
Photo of T5 from the E showing the exterior wall face on the left and F221 (centre) with F2014.24 toe the right and the third similar feature to the right of that at its near end
The presence, and similarity in form of the second and third features suggests structures built for the same purpose, either successively or to function together. One suggestion is that they were flues. However, although a small quantity of slag (industrial residue) was recovered adjacent to the two large capstones of (6) and from within the feature, there are no signs of heating anywhere in the vicinity and very little charcoal.
The samples recovered from the three features will be processed to retrieve any dateable material such as seeds or charcoal. Decisions on any further work in this part of the site will be made on the basis of the results.