Matthew and I arrived this morning to find Iggy and Gordon just taking the last of the turf from the 5m by 1.4m wide trench which will be our home for the next four days. Kate arrived soon afterwards and we began to trowel..
A dry compacted sand with nothing in it. The trench has been positioned following resistivity, fluxgate gradiometer and ground probing radar surveys. There is a strange pattern of features across the lawn but at this location is a circular hollow about 10m across with a small mound in the middle. Possibly an ornamental pond? This and the other features are not shown on any maps of the park. They seem to hide the formal garden shown on the 1773 and 1786 maps but underlie the straight path leading to the obelisk. So is this part of a short-lived unrecorded garden c.1800…. or something else.
In front of us Kingston Lacy mansion and behind us the obelisk. It was brought to Kingston Lacy for William John Bankes and finally erected in 1829. It is covered in scaffolding at the moment while the inscriptions dating to c. 116 BC are laser scanned.
A cool strong gusty wind and our gazebo shelters rattled and shook while the information sheets to explain the shocking hole in the lawn were sent into the air and towards the house.
We gave up troweling and tackled the sand with mattocks. Very little in the top 100mm and then a layer sprinkled with black clinker and occasional fragments of brick.
We stopped and photographed it and went and had a cup of tea in the gardeners’ bothy. It was nearing the end of the day and a glimpse beneath the clinker had revealed more sand.
Is there anything there? Paul from Bournemouth Uni found us with his GPR plot. We sat round a bench and he explained that there was a buried surface reflecting back beneath the soil. Perhaps 250mm down.
We will press on tomorrow but our latest finds are micro flakes of worked flint together with chunks of burnt flint. There is a feeling that we have moved much further back in time than the 300 years we had expected but let’s see.