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Fan Barrow Excavation - Dig Diary 2010


This dig was funded by Cadw to find out if anything survived of a Bronze Age burial mound which had been damaged by ploughing. The results will help Cadw decide how to look after the site.

Monday 11th October - Day 1

We open a trench with a JCB to discover how much of the burial mound survives. The trench is placed to reveal a variety of possible features suggested by the geophysics survey we undertook last year.

Unfortunately, we cannot see any evidence of the former mound, but a few patches of darker soil give us hope that there may be something to investigate. We start to clean the loose soil to define the edges of what we hope will be interesting features.



The weather is great and the spectacular views demonstrate why the burial mound was built here, about four thousand years ago.

Tuesday 12th October - Day 2

Another beautiful day, marred only by a lack of archaeology. Several of the dark patches we have investigated contained bailer twine, silage wrap and modern wood! One feature, however, looks much more interesting...



...and in another feature we find a piece of pottery!

Wednesday 13th October - Day 3

We have cut back the edge of the trench to reveal the whole of the stone filled feature and begin to clean it up for a photograph.



The other feature has turned out to be a small pit with the remains of at least two clay pots, and traces of cremated human bones.

The pottery is very fragile and will need to be excavated very carefully.

As we excavate the stone filled feature, it soon becomes clear that it is a stone lined cremation pit.

As well as the cremated bones, the burial contains a small but beautifully decorated clay pot, known as a 'Pigmy Cup'.

Pigmy Cups are small pots found in some Bronze Age cremation burials, especially in Wales and southwest Scotland. Cremation burials in Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire have produced a group of cups of particularly high quality compared with other regions in Britain.

Thursday 14th October - Day 4

We carefully excavate around the 'Pigmy Cup' before surrounding it with bandages and expanding foam, in order to lift it in one piece.



When we lift it, the pot, we can see more of its beautiful decoration. Even the base has been decorated.


Friday 15th October - Day 5

Our last digging day. Having removed the cremation from the stone-lined pit, we record it ...







...and then remove the stones to reveal the original pit cut.


Meanwhile the time has come to lift the other cremation pit for careful excavation in the conservation laboratory at Cardiff. Having carefully dug down around the pottery...

... First the feature is wrapped in bandages...

...then expanding foam is sprayed into a cardboard ring to surround and support the block of soil.

Finally, we can lift the whole pit, with all its contents in one piece!

The excavation has made some very interesting discoveries, and a lot of work now has to be done to conserve the delicate pottery and analyse the finds. Many thanks to the friendly landowners, and to the Annie and Hubert for their hard work!






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