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Mesolithic and Neolithic sites at Penpant
Dig Diary 2013

Investigation of Mesolithic and Neolithic sites at Penpant, Solva, Pembrokeshire, 2013

The identification of a large collection of Mesolithic flints ( c . 8000-4000 BC) close to a largely destroyed Neolithic chambered tomb ( c .3200 BC) at Penpant may indicate ‘persistence of place', perhaps over several thousand years. The 2013 investigation will explore the chronology of the site and seek to provide a model for understanding similar sites on the Pembrokeshire coast.

Geophysical survey in May 2013 in the area of the Mesolithic flint scatter provided little guidance on the best places to excavate. Therefore excavation will be based on a systematic grid undertaken by a group of enthusiastic volunteers working alongside leading experts in the field.

The Penpant investigation is supported by Cadw and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority.


The earth resistance survey of Penpant. The grid is at 20m intervals. Survey by A Payne and A David

Day 1
3 June 2013

The first really hot day of the year. Tents were erected and trenches laid out. Excavation started by mid morning, and before lunch the first worked flint was found. Sieving the soil means that progress was slow, but by the end of the day excavation of several of the 1m x 1m trial pits was well advanced.

 

Day 2

Work continued apace today, with 17 of our 1m by 1m trenches opened. The volunteers have all been working extremely hard but with the weather as glorious as it is, it's not such a chore. So far there have been few flint finds, mostly waste flakes, with a couple of cores. We‘ve probably got lots of digging ahead of us though, as they've been mixed in with more recent evidence of human activity like broken glass and blue and white decorated china. I'm sure it won't be long until the volunteers get some fruit for their labour!

 

Day 3

Not all archaeology blogs are obsessed with the weather but, when it's been this good it seems a shame not to make note of it. Only one new trench today but all of the others have all been worked hard by our volunteers, although the types of finds have not changed much from yesterday. Progress in a few has been hampered by the re-surfacing of a stream running across them but for now we'll just say, watch this space. Andrew David has brought a small selection of Mesolithic flints from other sites as a teaching collection for volunteers and visitors to get an idea of the kind of material to expect. Hope we find something as exciting as these!

 

Day 4

New trenches have been opened, and completed ones backfilled; is the headline for today. We haven't yet found an abundance of flint in any of those we've investigated, but there could be many reasons for that, including that we're not yet in the right place! That's not to say the volunteers haven't found some interesting puzzles to ponder. Some test pits have had a dense, large stone deposit in them whilst others have had barely a pebble, and often they've been neighbouring. We'll work it out eventually I'm sure.

 

Day 5

Much more of the same today it seems, with volunteers continuing to work their way through the layers. There are more flints turning up but this scatter is still hiding from us, but the systematic grid system of test pits will catch it out eventually. Despite the slow results the volunteers aren't daunted and are testing their own theories at the trowel-edge, after Tim (pictured) observed that his flint finds had come from a deposit void of centipedes. Is this a causal relationship or an accidental correlation? Only rigorous testing of the theory will tell!

 

Day 6

Today has been an adventure for one intrepid family. Jasmine, Mathew and Luke brought their dad along to have a go at digging. They must have brought some luck with them because we turned up our first, definite worked microlith (as modelled by Rhod).

 

Day 7

Another quieter day, with fewer volunteers than we saw during the week, but nonetheless a fruitful one. As you can see in the picture Babs is holding a scraper, suggesting we may yet find ourselves a scatter on the site.

Day 8

The working week starts again and we've now expanded the grid system, with our 1m x 1m trenches spaced out over a 20m grid. The idea being to cover a larger area, and then fill in the gaps if we have time towards the end of the week. Let's hope our planning pays off!

 

Day 9

The weather conditions this week, could not be much different from last weeks! However, despite this, the volunteers have continued to put in the hours and work really hard to try and achieve as much as possible during this excavation. Some of the trenches to the south-west of the site have turned up flints in much larger numbers than many of the others, with one in particular turning up about 100 on its own. This might indicate the presence of a flint scatter in this area, but perhaps only further work will truly answer this question.

Today the site was visited by pupils from Ysgol Groesgoch, who had a great time learning about the Mesolithic and archaeology. They even had a go at looking for themselves, and turned up a couple of dozen extra flints in their half hour of excavation! So we would like to thank all of the pupils and teachers for their visit, perhaps we have some of the archaeologists of the future in their midst?

 

Day 10

We were greeted by a traditional foggy Pembrokeshire day this morning, and conditions haven't changed much as it has progressed. The volunteers have continued to work hard despite this set back, I suspect to keep warm more than anything! We opened up our last trench before the end of the dig today, as we don't want to have too much backfilling to do at once, however there is still plenty of work to do before we worry about that. We we're also visited by the St David's Historical Society this afternoon, where they were given an introduction to Mesolithic flints by Andrew before taking a peek in our trenches. Some enjoyed themselves so much they have registered as volunteers with the Trust so that, next time they too can have a go. If you'd like to have a go why not get in touch and do the same?

 

 

 

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