Max Gate Day 5

Our last day and it has been so good to work at Max Gate.

Lots of visitors came today and some old friends.

Before tea break we worked hard to get as much of the remaining area in the large trench cleaned down to chalk. Lots of mattocking and shoveling and barrowing onto the growing spoil heap.

Fay sifted the soil from out part excavated circular pit and found a piece of pottery which may be Neolithic. It is the only find from the soil we excavated from the half-sectioned feature.

I then laid out my tapes and began to draw the pits, post-holes and faint ditches cutting the chalk.

The deadline was when Robin arrived with the survey equipment to scan the site and GPS fix our trench.

He set up his targets around the trench and produced a point cloud survey. He then took many overlapping pictures to produce a photogrammetric mosaic of images which will be draped over a digital terrain mode. He showed me the result on his ipad.

Robin surveying the trench

Rob and Carol got to the bottom of the ditch opposite the front door of Max Gate. It was almost a metre deep and below the frost-fractured chalk in the lowest filling was a thin veneer of soil including preserved flecks of topsoil trampled there when the ditch was first dug. We peeled it off and the natural chalk rang as we troweled it.

The thin veneer at the bottom of the excavated ditch below the path surfaces.

The finds exclusively struck flint flakes and sadly no charcoal or enough bone which can provide us with a C14 date.

In our large trench we found two 2m diameter pits, one part excavated with a small fragment of Neolithic? pot. In addition two parallel shallow gullies set 1m apart with post-holes where they turned at right angles away from each other? An entrance to a passage over 3m long between ditches leading to somewhere beyond the north-east edge of our trench.

We did not find a convincing continuation of the Middle Neolithic enclosure unless our half-sectioned pit was part of it. We noted that in the 1987-8 excavation the enclosure pits faded and became more distant as they headed towards the Paddock. Perhaps there was a wide entrance here. Perhaps the east side was the less desirable area for the groups that dug the pits. Perhaps it was never finished…

Air photo taken 1988 showing the excavated circle heading for the Paddock and Max Gate. . The excavated dots get sparser as they approach the Paddock (bottom right) where our trench was. Was it ever finished? Was this a less valued compass point of the circle? who knows the mind of the Middle Neolithic? The front door of Max Gate where we found our prehistoric ditch lies in front of the trees bottom left.

The front door trench hit a pit where the circuit should run but we cannot prove that.

A good but puzzling week. We packed up the tools and drove home.

Corfe Castle CBA festival day tomorrow. Minecraft in the Castle on Sunday.

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