The dig may be over and our trowels cleaned and put away, but that does not mean that the project is finished! Creative art workshops for adults lead by A. Rosemary Watson will be held at Whirlow Hall Farm on 13th August and 1st October (for full details click here).
Update from the Whirlow Hall Farm Excavation - 5 July
Today we had possibly the busiest day yet at Whirlow Hall Farm. Not only did we see lots of local primary school children having what was probably their first experience of archaeological digging but we also had a visit from the Lord Mayor who, as well as touring the site, also got in the main trench with a trowel and 'had a go'! The school visits last for three days and the kids have been very well behaved and really enthusiastic. Hats (or Whirlow Dig caps) off to Dorne, Nigel and Jane who have put their past teaching experience to great effect to manage these visits superbly.
Back to the trenches and we have continued to find pottery and other bits and pieces all over the main enclosure area. There are a couple of interesting features amongst the cobbles to explore and we will be working hard over the next couple of days to find out more. A small gang of highly experienced excavators literally got to the bottom of one of the new trenches today. The current theory is that whoever originally dug this ditch gave up on it having found the sandstone bedrock. We have done as much as we can for now at our surprise Roman Signal Station trench but we have located two 'slots' which Clive feels housed timber structures, supporting the belief that a building was certainly there at some point in time.
Unbelievably we only have three days left to work at Whirlow and that has to include our final day picnic lunch* for the people who have given up their time to volunteer for the dig. In addition to more trowelling we have several bags of excavated soil to put through a flotation process to learn still more about the ancient environment at Whirlow.
Finally, don't forget to book your place at the Time Travellers mid-summer BBQ at Whirlow Hall Farm on Sunday 17 July. Email Robert Allcroft and select your menu preference as soon as you can please.
*There is going to be "tea and cake" at Whirlow on Friday at 12.30 pm. Weather permitting it will be in the field, but if not we’ll find somewhere else and we'll sign post it. Please note that most of the trench will be back filled by then, so if you want to see the excavation you really need to aim for Wednesday or early Thursday.
Day 8 Update from the Whirlow Hall Farm Project
The afternoon of day 8 was rain interrupted and this eventually gave us to have a bit of an early finish. However, due to us having our largest daily turnout of volunteer numbers yet we still made good progress at. The main trench has had lots of attention this week and the ditch area continues to be excavated giving us lots of finds, particularly Derbyshire Ware pottery. We have collected several pretty large fragments of this grey coloured, gritty textured pottery and we are told that there is often a strong association with the Roman military. Perhaps this is a clue as to the people who occupied this site at some point in time!
Also today we started work at the surprise area where we think that a Roman Signal Station may have stood. The views over Sheffield were stunning on a cloudy day, in clear sunny conditions they must be fabulous. A group of nine volunteers made short work of cutting a fairly large exploratory trench with spades and had the turf removed in less than an hour. Weather permitting, we will continue to excavate that trench and look for dating evidence and proof of what actually created the features on the geophysical readings.
A final note right now. Due to some cancellations for this coming Saturday, we can offer an extra three or four volunteer digging slots. Please get back in touch with me asap on email@example.com if you'd like to take part. It doesn't matter if you've already spent time in the trenches or not.
Flint Knapping - cancelled
Regrettably because of other work commitments, Kristian cannot now get down to give us demonstrations of Flint Knapping at Whirlow on Saturday 2 July. This will be disappointing for lots of you but if we can, we will try to arrange this for another time.
Week one of our dig at Whirlow Hall Farm ended on a very damp note with trenches turning into ponds! Despite that, it has been a fantastic week of real practical archaeology and the number of finds has been better than we could have expected. Alongside all the pottery finds and geophysical discoveries, many Time Traveller members, visitors and youngsters have learned lots from taking part in an excavation and the feedback has been very positive.
We were lucky to have the loan of a gazebo at the excavation site this week but bearing in mind the rotten weather over the last day or two it would be wise to try to arrange a better place to shelter if the rain continues. Does anyone have a large walk in tent that we might borrow for the duration of the dig please?
Volunteers at The Time Travellers dig at Whirlow Hall Farm have, at the end of day three, seen our efforts evolve through gardening, earth moving and now archaeology! Once again, we made great progress today and the hard work has resulted in almost all of the exposed enclosure area having been trowelled back to a 'cobbled' level and the huge section of ditch has been re-excavated. Finds on the surface include several sherds of grey ware and Samian pottery, however the 'discovery' of the day has to be news that the latest geophysical survey has identified a very interesting square feature on a prominent position at the farm which we hope to investigate during the current project. Another exciting day lies ahead on Thursday as a JCB arrives on site to strip off areas of top soil so that we can get cracking at excavating new trenches and extending particular parts of the main trench. I'll keep you posted about this as things develop, or come along to the tours to see for yourself and hear the latest news during the daily tours at 11am, noon and 2pm.
Dorne, Nigel and Jane at Bradway Junior School explaining what the pupils will be seeing and doing when they visit the dig at Whirlow Hall farm.
Day one of the Whirlow Dig got of to a fantastic start, even if the Midsummer's Day weather didn't quite play ball. The 14 volunteers worked incredibly hard with the seasoned 'old hands' helping those for whom today was their first experience of an archaeological dig. A lot of the day was spent on backbreaking removal of the covering of back filled topsoil that has protected the excavation surface since the first dig there in 2011. There was time though for some proper 'trowelling' and tomorrow will see all volunteers continuing to do more of that.
The latest geophysical surveying is showing some tantalising pointers to where else we might focus our attention and so it looks like we will be kept very busy over the next three weeks. We also had lots of photography and filming taking place today, despite the rainy morning and we look forward to seeing the results of this from our project partners from the Sheffield Photographic Society and U3A.
With less than a week to go until we start excavating again at Whirlow Hall Farm our preparations have gone into overdrive! All those who have volunteered to take part in the dig have been allocated their slots and they will be busy polishing their archaeology trowels and searching out either sun cream, waterproofs, or both! As well as more than half of current Time Traveller members being involved, a large number of non-members have been given the opportunity to have a go at real archaeology. These people are from other history groups, schools, colleges and universities and people whose only exposure to archaeology so far has been via television. The project is getting some great publicity already and as well as three local schools who will benefit from educational visits we are also expecting to show the new Lord Mayor of Sheffield and several local councillors around the site. If you are not involved as a volunteer then remember that you can come along to see what is going on and enjoy a guided tour of the dig site at 11am, noon and 2pm every day. As well as the main excavation there are some other really interesting activities being arranged like flint knapping, dowsing and art classes. See the "Getting involved" section for more details of events.