Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Day one of new Stonehenge Darvil/Wainwright dig

You can almost hear the theatrical chords that will accompany every potsherd and stone-chip discovered in the final programme. Which will, no doubt, be narrated by a gravelly voiced actor drawling across flash-zoom close ups and time-lapse wonderments. I don't mean to sound cynical, but Timewatch was much better before it started getting large audiences. It still produces a couple of good shows here and there, but it's beginning to remind me of the last days of Horizon. . .


From BBC History.

History was made by the bucket-load today as the Timewatch dig got under way. The eyes of the world's press were on Professors Tim Darvill and Geoff Wainwright, as together they broke the ground inside the famous monument. That moment, for the record, was 9.20am on Monday 31 March 2008.

Once media duties were concluded, including live TV news reports, the team got down to the serious business of archaeological discovery. The fine weather made for good progress; by early afternoon all the turf was removed from the excavation area - a two by three metre rectangle.

Next, the team began to meticulously remove then sieve the topsoil, and found it "littered with nineteenth century picnic debris", according to Professor Darvill. This included fragments of clay tobacco pipes, glass and that seemingly ubiquitous blue and white porcelain. A medieval hairpin was also unearthed.

The dig is largely out of sight to the public, but a live video-feed beams the action to a plasma screen inside the visitors' marquee, affording a ringside view of a unique archaeological event. A Timewatch preview is also shown on another screen.

A good first day got even better at around 5pm, when professor Darville declared an "ace find". It was a large flake of bluestone which, he explained, shows clear evidence of having been deliberately struck from a larger stone, thousands of years ago.

Full story here.

There is a video of the dig here, and the OU are running a forum here.

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