1.3 Site field recording

Recording systems were progressively developed as the excavation proceeded. Initially, in 1972, trenches were referred to by their individual designation (e.g. A) and feature numbers (prefixed F) were allocated in a separate numerical series for each trench (thus e.g. D F22). In 1973 a fully numeric single series context-numbering system was adopted, drawing a distinction between 'main components' (features) and 'sub-components' (layers within features). Thus a feature might be numbered 0759, and layers within that feature would be numbered 0759.1, 0759.2 etc. The enclosure ditches were not numbered individually, but each cutting through each ditch received context numbers as if it were a discrete feature. Drawn sections through the ditch were numbered in series, prefixed by the letters DS.

This system was continued in 1977, and at the same time applied to all contexts in the 1972 excavations, which necessitated retrospectively re-numbering. Further, to avoid confusion with other numbering systems on site, all main component numbers were made up to 4 digits by prefixing one or more zeros as required. In 1977 context numbers were also allocated in series commencing 1001, 1501, 2001 and 2500, 'blocks' of numbers being allocated to different areas to avoid duplication.

An alpha-numeric site grid (Figs. 5 and 9-14) was also introduced in 1977 and retrospectively applied to earlier records; the grid has been used in some parts of this report to aid discussion as it enables the site to be usefully subdivided.

1.3.1 Fieldwork constraints

The soils at Blackstone were markedly easier to excavate in damp, autumnal conditions (although in very wet conditions they rapidly became too soft to excavate). Differences of colour and texture were very difficult, if not impossible, to detect or follow in dry conditions, and such conditions were prevalent throughout most of the 1972 season. Spraying with water was found to be helpful in dry periods, but this was impossible on anything but the smallest scale in 1972. Consequently, subtle variations of soil colour and texture, important in the excavation and interpretation of such features as the enclosure ditches in 1973 and 1977, may well have been lost in 1972. These circumstances should be borne in mind when comparisons are drawn between the evidence from 1972 and later seasons.

Sections through ditches, which at first showed undifferentiated deposits, were often found to exhibit subtle variations after a period (1 to 3 months) of exposure and weathering. For practical reasons, not all sections could be exposed for such long periods, especially if cut towards the end of a season. Differences of colour, texture and drying rates may, therefore, have been lost on occasion, particularly in Area A and Trial Trench I in 1972.


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