2009 TRENCHES NW 4 and NW 5 - North West Slope Project
Field Supervisor: Phil Perkins, The Open University, London


Final Report:

06-29-09 backhoe opens Trench NW 4

Excavation started in trench NW4 with the removal of the hill-wash deposits overlaying the archaeological strata. A backhoe (mini-digger) was used to excavate the sterile layers.

Students scarping Trench NW 4

The scarps were then cut vertically by hand to create sharp sections on all edges of the trench.


Trench NW4 before excavation

Trench NW4 was prepared for excavation by cleaning over the exposed top surface of the archaeological deposits. The trench has an 'L' shape due to its avoidance of mature and valuable chestnut and oak trees. Archaeological features were identified and planned prior to individual excavation.


Quarter section of southern firepit in Trench NW4

A circular feature was revealed in the southern part of the trench. A circle of gray-brown soil was surrounded by a ring of dark-red clay. Evidence for burning in a pit cut into the ground. The circular feature, 1.0m across, was divided in to quarters and alternate quarters were excavated to create a simultaneous north-south and east-west section of the pit. This enabled the examination of the processes that caused the pit to be filled.


NW4 southern firepit after excavation

The pit had a rounded bottom and contained much charcoal. The pit was cut as deep as the natural bedrock allowed.


NW4 excavation of northern firepit

When the smaller southern pit had been excavated work started on a similar, but larger pit to the north. Meanwhile, in the background work started on NW5, a smaller trench that was positioned to investigate an artificially cut rock that was excavated at the very edge of trench PC18 in the 2000-1 seasons.


Partial excavation of northern fire-pit in Trench NW4

Thick deposits of charcoal emerged as the larger fire-pit was half-sectioned. Here the uppermost layers filling the pit have been removed.


Students work in NW 4; Phil Perkins discusses NW 5 with Michael Thomas and Jess Galloway


Jonathan Davies and Nathan Briscoe discuss excavation strategy in NW5

Meanwhile in trench NW5 Jonathan Davies and Nathan Briscoe continue the excavation of the cut rock, that quickly emerged as a cut quadrilateral block.


07-08-09: NW5 cut block emerging

The top of the block is seen from the south in the photograph above.


Half section excavation of northern fire-pit in Trench NW4

The excavation of half of the large fire-pit was completed revealing a layer of charcoal and a large cut block of stone in the bottom.


07-14-09: cut block in Trench NW5

As excavation progressed the block rapidly emerged. Various cuts and grooves suggest an attempt to create large blocks of stone, possibly for the first phase of the sanctuary on the top of the hill.


Possible ceramic wasters found in NW4

Finds of poorly fired ceramics in NW4 suggest that the fire-pits may have been used as kilns for firing earthenware pots.


07-17-09: 2 superimposed northern firepits in Trench NW4

When the excavation of the larger fire pit was completed it was found to actually consist of two very nearly superimposed, and overlapping pits, one deeper than the other. The most recent pit contained large quantities of charcoal.


Ceramic waster found in Trench NW4

Near to the fire-pits a fragment of severely over-fired and deformed clay was found, providing good evidence for manufacture of ceramics.


Phil Perkins photographs tool marks on cut block in Trench NW5

Tool marks on the cut block in NW5 were carefully photographed by Phil Perkins.

Closer view of tool marks on cut block in NW 5


Sunset at Vigna after a hard day's digging