27 Monday 3rd May - Extending Trenches 3 and 4

Today we decided to enlarge trenches 3 and 4 to get a better appreciation of the site.  We have not yet found any buildings or structures, just large amounts smelting detritus, and we needed to get our "eyes in" to try to see through the apparent chaos of the site to the structure which underlies what we see.  
Click to enlarge photo
Trench 3 lies towards the bottom of the slope, near the stream and is characterized by layers of broken grey-black iron slag overlain by a deep crumbly black soil.  Slightly further up lies trench 4 which is characterized by yellowish stone and gritty sand overlain by clay-like soil, not as deep nor as good as that in trench 3.   The difference in the soils can be explained by the slag of trench 3 being unusually free draining  and open textured while that of trench 4 is more akin to a disturbed boulder clay, heavy and impervious.  Both contained fragments of coal, charcoal, limestone and iron slag, though the latter was the principal material of trench 3 where several interesting and varied forms were found.  

The colour difference of the two trenches can be see in their respective mounds of excavated material.
In trench 3, Mike and Alex widened the exploratory hole dug yesterday to the full width of the trench.  They found a number of larger stones, something hardly seen so far.  It dawned on us that we were possibly looking down onto part of the base of a furnace that was lined with whitish clay on which was a layer of in-situ slag (both discovered yesterday).   The widend hole revealed larger sized stones which may have been the base to the perimeter wall of the furnace.  

They also extended the trench further up the slope towards trench 4 and soon found a void in the loosely packed slag material which we thought might be the in-situ remains of a flue or a furnace.  The void was slowly opened up though work had to finish prematurely as we were running out of time.  The material inside this void was much lighter and more porous than that found elsewhere in the trench.

We like to start training new people from an early age!                                  Even a mole tried to get in on the act!

We also decided to enlarge trench 4 and this was excavated by 
Henry, Paul, Janet and David in two sections.  The rubble was hard to interpret but we eventually thought we had found the base of a demolished furnace as pieces of  in-situ iron slag were enclosed by some larger stones in a broadly circular fashion.

Click to enlarge

We finally had to call it a day, having run considerably later than planned.  We now possibly have the remains of three furnaces.  However, it would be nice to find something more definite.  Tomorrow, we plan to do some more delicate excavation work on these remains as well as enlarging  the trenches towards each another.