Howdy again, folks!
Here’s the latest edition of my journal! To me, it seems a bit mundane because we are getting into the nitty gritty with the field work, but I hope you can find some of it enjoyable. If nothing else, you can get a kick from my lack of ability to draw! I hope to be able to write more about my experiences during free time. I went to Liverpool, a U2 concert at Croke Park in Dublin and Aran Islands, so I have a lot to show and tell you! Until then, this will have to do!
Day 11 – Monday, July 17th
Weather: 76° and sunshine all day
I realized that I hadn’t done any finds processing yet, so because there was an opening in the hut I was able to do it. We processed mostly ceramics and glass, but we had a couple of pieces of wire and metal as well. All of the finds were from C81 and C84. I started off weighing the finds and writing up bags to put them into, and then switched midway through and described and measured them. When we finished that, we were tasked with cleaning the massive amount of oyster shells that were being dug up in trench 4. I spent the rest of the day doing that and between the four of us cleaning, we got through 3 buckets worth of shells.
Day 12 – Tuesday, July 18th
Weather: 70° and windy with hazy cloud cover
I spent the day cleaning oyster shells again. I was trying to be as thorough as I could while still getting a lot done. I wanted to get through the entire wheelbarrow full of shells, but we did end up with more shells in the “done” pile than in the “dirty” pile, so I felt accomplished in that respect. I also helped with taking levels in trench 4 at various points in time and I checked in on the girls working in those trenches and they were making really good progress. The latrine part of the trench was showing no signs of stopping, with samples overflowing in the trays, so Rory had said that he may come back to trench 4 next year and keep going to be able to find everything he can from the area. Also, Kayla, who was working in that trench, found a key. It was a very neat find and I can’t wait to see what it looks ike when it’s cleaned! I hope some of the intricate details are still left on the outside.
With cleaning shells all day for almost two days, my back was hurting by the end as well as my scrubbing arm by the end of the day, so I hope to not have to do that again tomorrow. I want to trowel again before we have to start recording and backfilling, but that seems like it might not happen with things going the way they are. With it being so dry, we have had to bring in water cans to wet the soil to see the different contexts. It is very slow going in trench 5 at this point. Rory said he wanted to be done with digging by Wednesday (tomorrow), but the forecast says that we will have thunderstorms and an 80% chance of rain, so we will see what happens next.
Day 14 – Thursday, July 20th
Weather: 63° and rainstorms in the morning / sun in the afternoon
I was assigned to do elevation drawing with Yolanda in the morning. We got about 30 minutes into drawing when it started to rain heavily. We spent some time in the castle waiting out the rain and that gave me time to pick Yolanda’s brain about Masters and PhD programs in Ireland. It rained for so long that we had our tea time and then went back out after that to work. By the time we got everything set back up, we only had ten minutes to work before it started raining again.
In the afternoon, I troweled C101 with AJ. We wanted to get rid of backfill to see more of the inside of the wall that butts up against C101. We got about half a meter down when AJ found a large piece of what we thought looked like unglazed ceramic. We had Rory look at it and he said that it was actually brick. This is significant because bricks weren’t use in Ireland until 1580. This would mean that C101 was a much later addition (it looks like it was used to block out the embrasure (alcove) that was also part of C91.) The height of the north side of C91 also made us think that a window use to be there. When I found 5 large pieces of glass with signs of window came, our suspicions were supported.
(Above: glass found in C101; Below: brick fragment found in C101)
Day 15 – Friday, July 21st
Weather: 55° and windy with rain showers all day
We didn’t go to the site because of the weather. We did, however, get to see a few local sites of interest that help us to better understand Isert Kelly and its context in the area.
Day 16 – Monday, July 24th
Weather: 70° with sun and breezy
I began with setting up the level. It was harder than we thought to get it completely level to take the back sight reading, so we had Jay help us with it. Once that was done, we took the level and offset of our find from end of day Thursday. We then started troweling in C101 again. When we got close to the bottom of the context, I found a piece of glass with a rounded edge. Rory said that it was most likely from a goblet of some kind. When I asked if that would help to date the backfill of the wall, he said no because it could have been many years older than the event of backfilling the wall. When I asked about the brick we had found previously in that context, he said that it could tell us the “terminus post quem,” which means it can tell us after what date the wall could have been built.
After tea, we troweled some more and came to a layer of mortar that was approximately the same level as the footing on the outside of the wall. Yolanda and Rory said that it was the bottom of the context, so we should clean it up. I cleaned it so the all of the mortar spots were showing and then we took pictures. I asked Jay about doing another context sheet for the new mortar layer, but he said that we wouldn’t do one because it was the mortar that fell through the cracks when the back fill was put in. Rory said that he thought it was the floor of the alcove, which would be the same context as C91, so it wouldn’t need a new context number. So either way, we didn’t assign it a new context.
I watched Rory dig C120 at the base of C6 (the bawn wall). He had found C119, which was the cut of the original wall trench when the wall was built. C120 consisted of rubble fill that was packed around the foundation of C6.
Day 17 – Tuesdy, July 25th
Weather: 72° and sunny
I troweled in trench 5 evening out the northeast side of the balk in order to get the profile drawings of the soil stratigraphy.
After I got done with cleaning the balk, I took levels for a planning drawing for the south end of trench 5 as well as for my find in C100 (a piece of green bottle glass). I found it strange that something more recent like a bottle would be found so deep in the trench. Soon after that, the girls in trench 5 that were cleaning up for final pictures got finished up, so knowing that we wouldn’t be troweling much after that, we cleaned up the trowels, shovels, buckets and kneeling mats.
Day 18 – Wednesday, July 26th
Weather: 60° overcast and windy
I began the day in the shed and we had our final lecture. When that was done, we went out to trench 5 and Yolanda asked me to help clean a layer of sediment under C94 in order for them to take pictures and a profile of the area. We took pictures and I wrote them in the photo log.
After lunch, I helped to backfill the southern half of trench 5. We put rocks in first (level or close to level with the surrounding sod) and then we will fill it with the spoil afterwards. We didn’t get to the spoil part of the process today. I volunteered to wash bones and did that until the end of the day. I had washed oysters in the past, but I hadn’t washed bone, so it was good to get better acquainted with it. We had a lot of dirt in the C81 tray, so we had to separate the bones out of the dirt before we actually washed them. We started then with C93’s tray and didn’t have enough time to finish them.