Test Pit Diaries

The lovely sunny weather has encouraged us to take a break from pottery, bones and stratigraphy and get out into the fresh air and do a tiny bit of excavation with some of our volunteers who have never dug before.   Here are their first impressions.

July 2014

jilltestpitAlthough I have seen many ‘Time Team’ programmes it wasn’t until I had a chance to dig in the test-pits at Manor Farm that I learnt about ‘trench etiquette’! NEVER use anyone else’s trowels, trench edges must always be perpendicular, levels must always be level, and no digging out of exciting-looking objects, however tempted! I also learnt to always clear the trench of any loose soil using your own shovel before any break and then place your shovel and trowel under the upturned bucket in case of rain. When you have mastered this you are ready to dig and hopefully find some treasures, which I did. Well, they were treasures to me and I loved it!

Jill Kidd – volunteer


I revised to correct trowelling technique, and learnt to keep trench floor level, especially with different people digging separate areas of the same trench, and trench sides and corners straight and tidy. Also practised sifting spoil heaps to check for any missed objects and was advised how to organise equipment and soil buckets for breaks. We were also shown the bench mark on a garden wall opposite the excavation field and learnt how to measure levels for small finds using the Dumpy level and the levelling staff. We finally inspected some of the finds after they had been washed. One of the most interesting remarks of the day was to “allow the finds to come to you, don’t dig down for them”.

Carole Hughes – volunteer