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Appendix 2: Charred Plant Remains

Ruth Pelling

June 2017

The excavations at Druid's Lodge included a flotation and sieving sampling programme for the recovery of charred plant remains, small bones, small finds, molluscs and other small material. Full sampling details are held in the project archive. A total of eighteen flotation samples were taken from across the site — including three trenches focusing on other features beyond the long barrow — ranging in size from 30–40 litres. Features sampled included tree-throws, ditches, the long-barrow ditch and the natural periglacial deposits. Six samples were taken from fills of the long barrow ditch cut [92303] and recut [92307] (three from each).

Methodology

Flotation samples were processed by excavation staff using a flotation tank with a mesh of 250µm for the flot and 500µm for the residue. Resulting flots were assessed by scanning under a binocular microscope at magnification of x10 to x40. Volumes were recorded before flots were split into manageable fractions using a set of graded sieves. Each fraction was scanned and a record of contents was made. Any charred plant remains were given an approximate abundance score (1=1–5; 2=6–25, 3=26–100, 4=101–500). The range of taxa present was recorded and a note of preservation made. The abundance of charcoal and taxa types was recorded, as was the abundance of molluscs. In addition the presence of more recent material including rootlets, unaltered seeds and other plant parts, and the burrowing snail Ceciloides, a medieval introduction to the UK, was also recorded. Assessment data was entered into the Intrasis database as the assemblage group 'unsorted flot contents'.

Results and Discussion

No charred seed or chaff remains were present in the samples from the long barrow ditch. Occasional fragments of indeterminate charcoal (fewer than five fragments per sample) were noted in one fill from the primary ditch cut [92303] (fill 92309) and two samples from the recut [92307] (fills 92302 and 92304). Molluscs were present in five samples (see Appendix 4).

The absence of charred plant remains other than charcoal is in contrast with the samples collected by Wessex Archaeology from the western end of the ditch and the southern ditch. Given the mixed nature of the deposits recovered by Wessex Archaeology (Wessex Archaeology 2016b), with material of Bronze Age and likely fairly recent origin, it is possible that much of the material present is derived from surface deposits incorporated within the ditch fills by bioturbation and ploughing and therefore cannot be related directly to the barrow.

There is no evidence that charred plant remains have formed any sort of deliberate structural deposit within the ditches of long barrows. No plant material other than occasional flecks of charcoal has been recovered from ditches of examples within the Wiltshire area, although the excavation of many of these took place prior to the routine employment of flotation methods. Plant material was recovered from beneath a long barrow of the Cotswold-Severn type at Hazleton North, Gloucestershire (Straker 1990), but in this case it was recovered from a midden spread sealed by the latter barrow and therefore not directly related to it. The incorporation of plant material within the ditch fills would therefore appear to be the product of chance.


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