5. Environmental Evidence

5.1 General methods

E. Pearson

5.1.1 Sampling policy during excavation

Environmental sampling was carried out extensively on the site throughout all seasons of excavation (1972, 1973, 1977 and a watching brief in 1984). Sample sizes ranged from 1 litre (mainly for charcoal extraction) up to 60 litres (Keepax and Paradine 1977). The large number of samples taken (Tables 18 and 28), and the use of a flotation machine were unusual for this period in time. Large animal bone was also hand-collected during excavation, although preservation was poor, with mainly only cattle tooth fragments surviving.

5.1.2 Method of analysis

P. Paradine and C. Keepax

The samples were dried on polythene sheets prior to processing, although whether this took place indoors or outdoors is not stated. They were processed by flotation using a Siraf tank. The flot was collected on 410µm and 212µm sieves and the residue retained on a 1mm mesh. This allows for the recovery of items such as small animal bones, molluscs and seeds. It is assumed that the residues from the 1mm mesh were fully sorted by eye, although this is not discussed in the original report. The flots were fully sorted, and the seeds identified by P. Paradine and cereals by J.R.B. Arthur. Nomenclature for the plant remains is not stated in the 1977 report but is likely to have followed the Flora of the British Isles, 2nd edition (Clapham et al. 1962).

5.1.3 Method of assessment (2007)

Material transferred to WHEAS, which required re-analysis (charcoal, flots and soil samples) was catalogued on a Microsoft Access database. Sample details from reports and documents prepared in 1977 were checked and added to the database in order to show the presence/absence of remains or samples and which material had been previously analysed. Many charcoal samples were re-packaged as the original containers were large and took up unnecessary storage space (original labels were retained). In the process the potential for charcoal fragments to be re-analysed was rapidly judged by eye. Previous reports and documents available in the archive included:


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