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Over the last couple of years you may have occasionally read about little bits of archaeology that I have found around Greenheyes. It is slowly building into quite a large "bit" of information so I thought that it would be a good idea to pull the bits together into one pile and get a better picture of the past. So here goes..
At the beginning November in 2003, a willow tree on the bank of the river dane opposite the heifer meadow was blown down. It fell into the river partially obstructing its flow and forcing the water up against the bank of the meadow.
The effect was quite dramatic and within a couple of days a large section of the bank had collapsed and been washed away by the fast flowing waters.
As can be seen from the picture on the left the height of the banks at this point is quite considerable.
For a sense of the scale, in the picture is may son who at the time was seven years old. He was standing about 4ft (1.21mtrs) back from the edge for safety so there is a little distortion of the scale but it is safe to say the the bank is approximately 8ft (2.4mtrs) high at this point.
The soil that is found on these lower meadows is an alluvial deposit and the banding seen in the photograph shows the layers of deposition which make up the alluvium.
The light bands are composed of a quite pure fine (in some very fine) sand, while the dark bands have a higher organic content and are more like the top soil of the meadow. This would appear to indicate a periods of flooding which deposited the sand followed by drier periods which allowed the build up of a more earthy soil. To be certain of this, it will be necessary to look at the bands more closely and undertake a detailed soil analysis, something that I am not able to undertake (might make a nice assignment for a student of an appropriate discipline to undertake).
If you take a close look at the bottom of the picture you may note an object protruding from the sediments at the base of the bank.
This close-up shows the remains of a timber. Take a closer look and you can see an object behind the timber (indicated by the arrow).
From above (left) it can be seen that the object appears to be an old pot and indeed that is what it proved to be.
Surprisingly it turned out to be metallic and despite the rusty outer appearance underneath had a silver lustre and it did not appear attract a magnet that I applied to it.
Given its fragile state I do not think that it could have fallen or moved very far from the location in which I found it. This has the intriguing possibility given the amount of sediment that was potentially covering it, that it is quite old.
The next day I went back for a further look at what I could find and although I did not find any further pots I did find some wooden "stakes"
The photograph on the right is a close-up of the tip of the "stake" in the left photograph and shows where it has been cut to a point.
This second photograph on the right shows a second "stake" with a more tapering tip.
Both were recovered in situ under approximately 8ft (2.4mtrs) of overlaying sediment.
Now for the bad news. As the pot was delicate and potentially quite old I realised that I should give it to more capable hands to examine. to do this it and the "stakes" were given to my sister who had contacts with archaeologist through her work. To this date I have not had any report from them, the pot and the "stakes" have disappeared.
At this time, skeptics amongst certain parties were suggesting that I had ben watching a little to much of Channel 4's "Time Team" program and that my imagination was getting a little over active, however..
By 2005 the erosion had continued apace.
The photograph on the right shows the bank as it was in January 2005.
The red line indicates the approximate position of the original river bank. At this point the river is now about twice the width it was prior to the fall of the willow.
By the beginning of August 2005 the following structure had been exposed by the continuing erosion approximately where the red arrow is on the above photograph.
At this point I decided that a more professional look at the structure was required and I contacted County Archaeologist Dr Jill Collins. Following this I was contacted by Dr Jonathan Lageard from Manchester University and arrangements were made to take Dr Lageard and a colleague, Dr Ian Drew, to the site.