dig blog post 1

The first day of the dig got off to a good start, with eight diggers getting to work in the 15-metre-long trench. The diggers came from as near as Sandford, and as far as Bournemouth, and ranged from the experienced to the first-timer.

The trench starts half way across the old road and extends across the heathland to the north. The trench had been kindly prepared for us a few days before by Dave Watkins-Jones of Sandford-based Anvil Grounds Maintenance, with a mini-digger. He had cut through the high bank next to the road and stripped off the surface layer on the heath section of the trench. This was a kind of mat of bracken roots, and despite this assistance, digging this part of the trench by hand was hard work as many deep bracken roots remained. The diggers on the road end of the trench had to contend with roots from nearby conifers.

Dave Watkins-Jones scrapes off the bracken layer

During the day we found a piece of flint from which flakes had been struck, probably in the Neolithic or early Bronze Age, between about 3500 and 6000 years ago. This was about the time that farmers began clearing the woodland for agriculture, a process which led to the creation of heathland. Several pieces of burnt flint were also found, which could have been heated up in fires and then put in water to heat it up for cooking purposes, a known cooking method in prehistory.