‘There’s a Breathless Hush’

‘An hour to play and the last man in’

Well, it’s the last day and there is so much to do. A bit of Sir Henry Newbolt or perhaps a some stirring stuff from Henry V…
‘Let he who has no stomach for this fight’ (a little random I know.. but it sets the mood)

Rob and Mike were on site today and they worked to answer the unanswered questions before the time ran out. I made my way round the site finishing the plan and drawing the different layers on the sections, marking on the context numbers that relate to the description forms.

starting to record the site today.

starting to record the site today.

It was dry and a perfect day but rather intense, we snatched drink breaks and had a barely noticeable lunch.

Mike took out the remains of the last fire in the fireplace and revealed the brick hearth with a few fragments of pot. There had been so many fires that the family had needed to replace the worn burnt bricks in the centre of the hearth.

The brick floor of the fireplace. The central section of bricks replaced.

The brick floor of the fireplace. The central section of bricks replaced.

Rob dug the pit that had been cut through the flagstone floor under the WWII rubbish dump. I was hoping for a ring of bolts set in concrete showing that the rubbish masked a gun mounting.. but no, the pit pre-dated this and contained Victorian pottery. The pit cutting revealed a lower flagstone floor.

The cleaned flagstone floor and pit after excavation with earlier floor visible.

The cleaned flagstone floor and pit after excavation with earlier floor visible.

We cut a trench beside the gully at the east end of the site to find earlier dating evidence. We know that the building was abandoned about 1800 but when was it built? We found several phases of building alteration and repair but nothing to give an earlier date.

One last request was to go to the other building. The one that we were too late for, and see what the sea had left behind to date it. Rob cleaned back the cliff and found a row of stones remains of a yard behind the building and the pottery from this was earlier 18th century.

The remains of the other building. Not much left.

The remains of the other building. Not much left.

By this time, the drawings were complete. Time was ticking away. Everyone who came to see us seemed very interested in the site but my replies were rather brief to questions (forgive me). Mike and Rob were much more engaging.

The last task was to give the site a thorough clean. Lots of brushing to make our temporary archaeological home really shine for the final photos. It looked lovely.. and then it was time to pack up the tools and say farewell to Hive Beach. Thank you so much to everyone who helped and came to see us.

The doorway into the flagstone area. note the doorpost holes  and abraded stone where the door gradually eroded a groove into the threshold as it was opened and closed so many times over the years.

The doorway into the flagstone area. note the doorpost holes and abraded stone where the door gradually eroded a groove into the threshold as it was opened and closed so many times over the years.

But… what was it? A fisherman’s house/smallholding that finally had to be abandoned to the sea. We thought that it might just be an outbuilding but it was a good dwelling with white plastered walls with perhaps the workshops and store buildings for the business behind. There was certainly much more here than we imagined and a lot we never saw. We must go to the Dorset History Centre and look through the land tax assessments for Burton Bradstock to see whether we can match this place to a tenement or croft in the late 18th century.

The Hive Beach building. We take away our memories, drawings and photos and leave you to the sea.

The Hive Beach building. We take away our memories, drawings and photos and leave you to the sea.

What will become of it…? We debated today whether to leave the site open and many people would like to have continued to see it.. but in the end we thought it best to backfill the site because it would soon start to decay and look a mess. We’ll use photos and a reconstruction drawing to put on an information board and place it on Fisherman’s Green (apparently that’s what the site’s called). The wall and fireplace of the building will be left exposed until the sea takes it..

Back to the office tomorrow.

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