An epic week in the trench

Epic. The only word I can think of to fully express the second week at Les Varines, Jersey as part of the #iceageisland project.

We work 6 days a week on site, with one day off to relax. After the very hot and dusty first week the students were looking forward to their Saturday off, but instead of getting to discover Jersey at it’s best they were met by 24 hours of solid rain – which only let up on the Sunday when it was time to return to site. Epic! We did desperately need it for the fruit and veg at our field, but I really did feel sorry for our students. 20140719-090547.jpgUnfortunately, the rain did a bit more than dampen the spirits. The uppermost north section caved in and slumped into the trench and the majority of other sections has damage. Luckily the most damaged sections had already been drawn by Sam and Marcus.
20140719-090915.jpgThere was a swimming pool of muddy water in the bottom of the trench. 20140714-225747.jpgIt was too slippery to walk down the ramp, though very funny when Ed tried and did that special arms-failing-legs-akimbo dance you do when you walk on black ice. Sadly he recovered and didn’t fall. Bad site director!20140719-093405.jpg Whilst a strategic plan of attack was being formed, the remainder of the staff and students headed to the St Clements church dig site where Societe Jersiaise field archaeologist Robert Waterhouse provided an overview of the complicated archaeology of the Iron Age / Roman site.20140719-093801.jpg Back at Les Varines a chain gang was set up and with lots of dodgy singing and team work the swimming pool was drained.20140719-094018.jpg Armed with sponges Pete and Jesse dabbed the last of the moisture from the surface of the test pits. Nothing more to be done today, we had to leave the sun and air to work their magic and dry everything out. We left the site, tired and muddy but with a huge sense of achievement.

20140719-102137.jpg Next day was dry enough to set up the second chain gang to clear the 10 metre long stretch of slumped section. 20140719-103027.jpgFor 2 whole days the guys mattocked, dug and shovelled, and worked their way through 2 wheelbarrows and 15 tons of material. 20140719-104455.jpgWork, work, work they did, until we had a beautiful trench once more. The effort and teamwork was immense. Epic, I would say……

20140719-105550.jpgIn the mean time work in the test pits was able to recommence. We first had to scour off the debris washed down by the rain, then we were back to our prehistoric layers – but this time troweling was a delight. Even the hardest of granitic sands seemed to peel away nicely after their soaking.

20140719-111212.jpg Soon, the treasure trench was yielding its bounty. Fifty Magdalenian flints in one day from one trench!

20140719-110323.jpgFrom the tiniest of chips smaller than the size of your pinkie nail (that a very specific scientific unit of measurement) to this beautiful flake the size of the palm of my hand.

20140719-111420.jpg By the time it reached Friday, we were happily cosseted in the bottom of our trench. So much so that whilst we heard the rumble of the 4.2 magnitude earthquake which hit Jersey, (sounding like thunder and an airplane meeting nearby) we felt absolutely no movement. Nothing. Unlike my hubby who still daily tells me how the wooden partitions at Homegrown shook whilst he was having lunch!

From torrential rain, hot days, awesome teamwork and topped by an earthquake the week was definitely epic. Week two completed, and who knows what week three will bring!

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