Monday, 25 September 2017

Hay History Weekend

I think I've just about stopped aching!
On Friday, as part of the History Weekend, members of the History Group were digging a small test pit in a back garden somewhere in Hay. I thought I'd go along and have a look. My intention was to have a look into the hole, say some variation on "Very interesting" and come away again.
When I got there, Alan and Mari had just opened up the pit, and were removing the garden soil - and I couldn't resist. I dashed home for my archaeological trowel, small shovel for removing loose soil, and some plastic bags to put finds in, and got straight down on my knees to show them how to clean off a surface, and point out the different layers in the soil.
Of course, I was still in my good trousers and my smart shoes....
Two hours later, they stopped for lunch, and I went off to do the other things I was supposed to be doing that day. I had to change - I was filthy! So I deliberately put white clothes on so I wouldn't be tempted to do any more digging.
By lunch time, we'd got some blue and white pottery, and a few bits of earlier pottery, including slipware. There were a few bits of clay pipe, too, and what archaeologists call an "Fe obj" - short for iron object, basically a rusty nail!
This was the sort of thing that I used to do in a morning before tea break, without breaking a sweat - but I was reminded just how long ago that was when my muscles stiffened up overnight. I spent a lot of Saturday saying "Ouch."
Alan will be continuing with the pit this Friday - they got to about 20 inches deep in the end, and haven't hit natural soil yet.
And this seems like a good place to mention that Alan Nicholls has a new book out, being a collection of articles from the old Haywire magazine, an idiosyncratic view of Hay in the hay day of Richard Booth. It's available for £20 from
Mari also told me about the much larger pit that's been opened up in the Castle grounds, "the size of a swimming pool", she said.
It is, indeed, quite large, and deep, and most of it seems to have been filled with clay to level up the garden - about six feet deep of it! (That came out with a JCB!). Under the clay, the floor level of a building is starting to appear, probably from the original castle, and a lot deeper than the present house.
Also over the weekend were some guided walks around Hay, and a pop-up museum in the Parish Hall, with tea and cakes. About a hundred people came to the museum, and about fifty to the talk held on the same afternoon. Sadly the talk about Gwrych Castle, at Cusop Hall, had to be cancelled because the speaker was ill (I'd been looking forward to that one).

No comments: