Monday, 16 February 2009

Earthworks

I should have kept out my bricks and mortar yesterday, after all. What with Carolina's housebuilding-alterations, and thoughts of the Weald and Downland Museum (I will elaborate on that some when), what should I see on TV last night but Time Team. For non UK readers, a group of archaeologists excavate a promising sight over a three day period, and a team of experts hold forth on their findings. Yesterday they were in Radcot, Oxfordshire.

In what looked to be a completely innocuous field, by the end of the programme, they had made the most amazing discoveries. The range of artifacts found told their own story. The deeper the team dug, the further back in time we travelled.

Romans must have first inhabited the site, for a large boundary ditch was found, thanks to details picked up by the geophysicist's machinery, and there was pottery which confirmed the date. On top of this, the centuries added different stories layer by layer, all the way through to the time of the Roundheads and Cavaliers. Masses and masses of pottery sherds helped explain how this site had been occupied. There is a good article on the programme if you Google 'Time Team Archaeologists+Radcot'.

As with all builders in bygone days, materials are better found locally, and though I'm no expert, I guess flint was easy to find in the chalky lands of the South Downs. There are certainly flint buildings to be seen all over the south of England. In fact, there are numerous little alleyways whose flint walls guide one to the shopping centre in the Havant of today, and in nearby Chichester the old town walls are also made from this most traditional of materials. Which brings me round to my finale for today.

Castle Wall

Rough flint wall warmed by the sun,
mingling sharp edges
with satin smooth centres
of broken stones, which invite fingertips
to caress their dappled beauty.

Formed when the world was young
they remained hidden from prying eyes
until craftsmen fashioned them
into this battlement.

Split stones re-assembled
in man made patterns;
light and shade from the sun
echoing natural contrasts
in the central core of the flint;
muted, semi-translucent grey brown,
the colour of fish scales.


16 comments:

  1. Lovely post, enjoyed reading it - but I can't wait to become re-acquainted with the Weald and Downland Museum. Hope you post that one in the not too distant somewhen! Appreciated the poem, too. The icing on the cake, that.

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  2. Maybe if you keep looking you'll discover some hot Roman baths.... :)

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  3. Wonderful! *smiling*

    and I love this kind of thing....I actually watched an excavation in progress - in Indiana of all places - it was interesting!

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  4. Isn't it interesting that they can deduct so much just from some dents or heaps in the earth and the fragments of pottery they find? Fascinating. It's not a BBC programme I think? Have never seen it.
    Beautiful poem again. We've been to Chichester once. Lovely town!
    Oh, and we made our own archeological discovery in the batroom (well, not really archeological, but it certainly was an unexpected feature). I'll take a picture and put it on my blog.

    X

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  5. I meant bathroom of course ;-(

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  6. Really interesting, La Jinks, and I adored your piece on tears yesterday, and your fishy Piscean nature! My son is a Piscean too - so happy belated birthday for your date I must have missed! xox

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  7. A good programme The Time Team, isn't it?
    Flint is such an interesting material - we don't get it at all round here but I have seen it in East Anglia. We do occasionally find flint knives here - evidence of people from the past.
    I often wonder what lies beneath our feet - one thing is for sure, Jinksy, for everything we find there are plenty of things still hidden.
    Like the poem too.

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  8. anything of the soil, especially the old, fascinates me.

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  9. Formed when the world was young
    they remained hidden from prying eyes
    until craftsmen fashioned them
    into this battlement.

    superb!

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  10. This is what I LOVE most about England! All of your amazing History! It's incredible how so much of it is still preserved today! And how easy it is to feel yourself going back in time! Thanks for this post. Googling now!

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  11. That has to be an interesting program. I don't think we have anything like it in the States. If we did dig that far back time wise it would be Indian relics we were uncovering.

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  12. Always something interesting here. Nice!

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  13. Hi there -- I agree with Angie, VERY ineresting! I went looking for you today. I put up a post and I thought of you, that you might enjoy seeing it.

    It's about a baby goat and it's on my Adventures in Nature blog at:http://naturegirrrl.blogspot.com/

    Come to think of it, you would probably like the one I have up at my third blog, lol, called Looky Here. If you have a minute and feel like it, here's that link as well. http://lookyhereu.blogspot.com/

    Enjoy the day!

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  14. HI and thanks for stopping by. I guess I thought you'd enjoy seeing the movies of the baby goat for some reason, but I guess I was off on recomending the other blog's post. I made that list to illustrate for people. Not your cup of tea.

    Anyway, have a great day.

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  15. I love Time Team. My brother is an archeologist so I'm always fascinated by it. Super blog.

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  16. I love to watch Time team which we can get here on Cable TV.

    I have just googled St Faiths and Homewell and have come up with a photos of the old church and Havant. I notice that you are close to the coast.

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