Excav critiq Essay


This review will analyze the RAF St Athan digging study by Barber et Al. ( 2006 ) and asses the purposes and intent of the digging. It will besides see the agreement and presentation of both text and illustrations for lucidity and logical thinking. A general review of the complete study and the decisions given will besides be commented on.

Site and principle for digging

In the early 2000s the Defence Aviation Repair Agency ( DARA ) , located at RAF St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, planned to construct a new ‘Super hanger ‘ as portion of the renovation programs for the landing field. However, as a consequence of archeological involvement in the proposed building site, based on the find of sites and artifacts in the surrounding countryside which spanned the prehistoric, Roman and mediaeval periods, Cotswold Archaeology ( CA ) were contracted, in the first case, to measure the site and so subsequently to unearth it. Excavation work took topographic point during March and May 2003.

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The writers are concise in their principle for the digging at RAF St Athan and are really clear as to the location of the site which, in add-on to an Ordnance Survey ( OS ) grid mention, is visually supported by a series of clear black & A ; white scaled maps that are linked to a tabular array detailing pertinent archeological sites and artifacts in the venue.

Planing and history of digging

The digging study provinces, in its ‘Introduction ‘ ( pp. 49-50 ) , that CA were commissioned, in 2001, to set about an archeological ‘desktop survey ‘ of RAF Athan and its environing country in stead of planned renovations by DARA. However, the duality that confronted CA was fact that DARA was located on Crown land and as such was non bound by the Government ‘s Planning Policy Guidance note PPG16 ( archeology and planning ) , which states that it is best pattern for a site to undergo an archeological rating prior to the granting of be aftering permission ( Grant et al. 2005: 126 ) . The state of affairs was hence resolved by DARA holding to voluntary fund CA to transport out an archeological rating of the ‘Super hanger ‘ site, which they undertook during December 2002 and February 2003 ( p.50 ) .

Following a study of the site utilizing magnetic susceptibleness scanning CA selected four distinct countries for a more intensive study utilizing magnetometry. Then, as a consequence of anomalousnesss detected in ‘Area 2 ‘ , CA put in three rating trenches which confirmed that there were ‘a significant dateless enclosure ditch, a Roman ditch and several post-medieval field boundaries ‘ on the site ( p.50 ) . Therefore, on the footing of this find, DARA agreed to fund an archeological digging of the country, albeit within a specified period of clip.

Due to the imposed clip limitations the digging scheme employed by CA, as detailed in ‘Excavation methodological analysis ‘ ( pp.50-53 ) , was one of extenuation whose written specifications had been approved by the local authorization. Consequently an country of 2.7ha was automatically stripped and the archeological characteristics ‘sample excavated and recorded ‘ ( p.53 ) ( Fig. 1 ) . However, more characteristics became evident towards the terminal of the digging so, with limited clip available, CA placed the accent on the aggregation of artifacts from surface fills that were complimented by machine-cut subdivisions that would both assistance in the designation of the characteristics and potentially provide more dateable points. It was acknowledged in the study that this attack had ‘resulted in the limited reading of these characteristics ‘ ( p.53 ) .

The chronology of events associating to the granting of both permission and support for the digging are good documented. The text is besides complimented with good presented annotated figures.

Stratigraphic and artifactual grounds

The primary focal point of the digging was the square-shaped Enclosure 1 which was identified as a Period 2 construction ( i.e. Middle to Late Iron Age ) ( Fig. 2 ) ; CA, as stated in ‘Excavation Results ‘ ( p.53 ) , holding assigned four periods of human activity to the site.

Segmenting, by manus and machine, of Enclosure 1 revealed a approximately 3 to 4.5m broad ditch which was nominally wider at the corners and had a general V-shaped profile to a deepness of about 1.5m, although on both the E and west side it was truncated at the underside to make a 0.5m broad level surface. Stratigraphic grounds indicates that the ditch was recut on two occasions, the first of which was entirely focused on the northern portion of the ditch ( i.e. from the gateway to the corner ) and resulted in it being displaced somewhat to the South with a corresponding motion of the gatepost-pits ( Figs. 2 & A ; 3 ) . Besides discernible was a 3-4m broad internal bank that had been constructed from excavated ditch stuff ( i.e. rock ) and the subsequent recutting and scouring of accrued silt ( p.56 ) .

Stratigraphic grounds indicates that the initial basal fills of the enclosure ditch were of accumulated silt and sub-angular rocks from bank eroding. Recovered artifactual stuff from the ditch fills comprised of Late Iron Age clayware shards, with five big shards from a individual point being recovered from recut 1 and the guess that it could hold been an knowing deposition ( p.57 ) .

Two possible roundhouses were identified in the north-west corner of Enclosure 1 as were legion, enclosure-based, two and four-posted constructions ( Fig. 2 ) . The stratigaphic grounds for roundhouse 1 ( RH1 ) merely truly exists as one subdivision of a curving ‘V-shaped ‘ trickle gully, 0.3 m broad and 0.2m deep. However, no internal characteristics such as post holes or fireplaces were discovered and the merely cured artifactual stuff comprised of a individual clayware shard ( p.62 ) .

The grounds for roundhouse 1 ( RH2 ) is far more compelling as it is defined by two opposing sections of a curving ‘V-shaped ‘ trickle gully, 0.4 m broad and 0.15m deep. In add-on internal characteristics consisting of four post holes and a ‘hearth ‘ were besides identified ( p.63 ) . Again merely a individual clayware shard was recovered.

The south-east section of RH2 gully was identified as holding a ‘drainage goad ‘ that cut-through the terminal subdivision of the RH1 gully ( Fig. 2 ) . However this spur itself might hold been linked to a characteristic opposite the RH1 gully that itself had been truncated by a ulterior period characteristic. As the writer ‘s comment, the ‘stratigraphic relationship ‘ is non clear and therefore reading is debatable ( p.62 ) .

Features discovered outside Enclosure 1, and assigned to this period, comprised of some ditches associating to a field system and a little, 1m deep, rock-cut cavity that contained, amongst other things, clayware shards and legion rock fragments. The writers speculate that this may hold been a little prey ( p.66 ) .

On the footing of stratigraphic grounds from the Enclosure 1 ditch subdivisions the writer ‘s have concluded that it was during the Roman period of activity ( i.e. Period 3 ) that the ditch was comprehensively backfilled and the internal bank intentionally slighted ; the ulterior accounting for the debut of ‘large measures of residuary Iron Age clayware ‘ into the upper fill degrees together with some associated Roman clayware ( p.66 ) . The lone significant structural Period 2 find was that of one or two ‘T-shaped ‘ drying ovens located in the former ‘space ‘ bounded by Enclosure 1. Drying oven 1, which still had some of its rock liner in situ, was located near to the site of RH2 ( Fig. 4 ) . Discovered in association with this oven was a ‘socketed Fe object ‘ which was found in an next context and believed by the writers to hold been a ‘stoking or uncluttering device ‘ ( p.68 ) .

A new field system, was besides discerned, as were trackways, cavities and some ditches ; one which may hold been related to a roundhouse. Artifactual grounds pertaining to CA ‘s Period 4 activity ( i.e. Post-medieval/modern ) was in the signifier of cured clayware shards. Besides apparent were boundary ditches that were found to conform to the field systems laid out in the 1921 OS map ( p.71 ) .

Specialist study

Renfrew and Bahn ( 2008: 13 ) province that ‘the purpose of archeology is the apprehension of world ‘ , therefore the undermentioned specializer study has been selected for an assessment because it specifically deals with the people who had an confidant relationship with the site.

Human Skeletal Remains, by Teresa Gilmore

Following the introductory text, which is supported by a tabular array of entombments informations that includes the carbon 14 day of the months for the six burials recovered during the digging, the study goes onto reference both dental and trauma issues before climaxing with a short treatment.

Dental pathology is confined to the analysis of Burial 1 as this was the lone skeleton recovered with any dentitions ( Fig. 5 ) . However, Gilmore appears to do a simple mathematical mistake when speaking about ‘six of the moderate dentitions ‘ as she so cites them as consisting ‘3 incisors, 1 eyetooth, 1 grinder ‘ ( p.104 ) . Her comparing with the consequences presented by Roberts and Cox ( 2003: 100 ) for Iron Age dental carries and calcus indicated that Burial 1 was lower than the national norm. Roberts and Cox ( 2003: 100 ) besides note that ‘dental disease is a contemplation of the economic system ‘ .

On the topic of injury, Gilmore observed that Burial 4 had an old cured break of the left forearm which had calcified and that the hurt, in association with jobs to the carpus and manus castanetss, likely prevented the person from utilizing their left carpus ( p.104 ) . Her subsequent comparing with the consequences presented by Roberts and Cox ( 2003: 100 ) for Iron Age fractures revealed that out of 35 persons recovered from Yarton, in Oxfordshire, 1 had a forearm break.

However, as Gilmore concludes, the six cured skeletons are excessively little in figure to be a feasible statistical base to bespeak the wellness of the populations, peculiarly as the entombments spanned different periods of clip and were in different provinces of saving ( p.104 )

Whilst the study was hard to understand, with regard to the medical nomenclature used, it was besides really interesting because it was covering with the medical conditions that affected these people in life and which one can sympathize with today.

Complete study

The study is logically structured, come oning consecutive from the debut to digging inside informations and so onto the 10 specializer studies, where informations are presented either tabulated or listed. In the instance of the works macrofossil gathering they are identified in a tabular array by both their Latin name and, where appropriate, their common name. However, the cured Mollusca are identified merely by their Latin name which makes the text harder to digest. Besides the carbon 14 consequences are repeated virtually direct elsewhere within the study, but the information is relevant in these subdivisions and it would interrupt the train of idea if one had to maintain mentioning back to the carbon 14 study.

One unfavorable judgment that can be levelled at the study is the fact that it contains the colloquialism ‘in the visible radiation ‘ , which appears in the text on three separate occasions ( p.50, 106, 108 ) . Given that CA is a commercial administration one would hold expected a more rigours vetting of the stuff prior to its release for publication.

The study concludes with a distillment of the sound readings espoused in the treatment subdivision, which assessed the site informations against pertinent published stuff. Where possible these external beginnings ( i.e. ‘Reports consulted but non cited ‘ ) have been examined to guarantee confirmation of the uttered readings and it is hence believed that the concluding statements are valid.

Finally, as archeology is a destructive subject its raison vitamin D ‘ & amp ; ecirc ; tre is to do it findings known, and in this regard CA has achieved its aims. Furthermore, the cognition gained from this site has challenged the bing premises on both ‘burial patterns and colony forms in south-west Wales ‘ ( p.110 ) .