Monday 28 February 2022

That's the way to do it

| "The green fields and woods of rural Northamptonshire look as apparently immutable as much of the British countryside. Next to the remote farm of Blackgrounds, however, a thin layer of innocuous green pasture has been peeled back. Below the surface is revealed a cobbled Roman road, walls, wells, pathways and shops: a bustling, prosperous international settlement long lost to memory" (Patrick Barkham Ticket to Roman Britain: HS2’s route to ancient history Guardian Sun 27 Feb 2022). The main image is "an archaeologist in high-vis clothing and a helmet using a metal detector at Blackgrounds" (Dan Burn-Forti/The Observer).
The team has found more than 1,000 nails and 400 coins. Every find, no matter how trivial, is recorded on GPS. Its location – and depth – is crucial data. “On a normal site, if you find a coin it’s a special thing, whereas here there is something every day,” says West. Right on cue, there’s a beep from the metal detector being swept across the soil by Phil Holt of Red River Archaeology. Is his detector good? “Well, it’s two grand,” Holt laughs. “It’s very good at depth and discrimination and it will tell me on a screen how deep it is. If it’s too deep, I’ll wait until the next context [layer of soil] comes off, so I can record the find in context.”
None of the hasty hoiking of the collector, who'll most likely throw away all the nails without a thought for them, let alone plotting them.... after all, what for eh? Collecting is not doing archaeology.

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