These are the sort of days when you can hear the clock tick, even though we’re not wearing watches and there are no clocks in any direction for about a half kilometre. While time may be on the side of Mick Jagger, it’s not on ours, alas.
We have one day left and much to do in that day, so we really only have time to achieve one more objective in terms of excavation: find out what lies beneath the tremendous pad of clay. By finding out what’s there, it helps us in interpreting what we’ve seen to date, but also helps us to justify the notion that this is an area worth returning to at a later date.
In addition to fighting time, we’re also fighting the weather a little bit. We’re in a yurt but we’re still not sure how well it would stand up in bad storm.
At the beginning of the day, it only looked quietly calm, if a bit grey:
Later, however, it definitely looked like we were about to be menaced:
The end result was that it did downpour pretty brutally, but the yurt held up against the rain perfectly. So another score for the yurts, which have proven themselves quite effectively over the course of the dig.
In clearing up the edge where the sand meets the clay, Becki found a small, seemingly circular pit feature that was full of heat-altered early 18th century artefacts, which are marked by the 10 and scored.
She also scored the possible drain trench, so the distinction between the trench and surrounding soil may be clearer here than in previous photos:
On Becki’s side of our clay baulk, the clay dissipates about 50 centimetres below surface, sloping down into a pit.
This layer looks very intriguing and it’s a shame we won’t be able to get into it this year, but it’s encouraging to know that something is underneath all of the clay. For the sake of knowing if that slope continues or becomes steeper, I continued to dig to find it on the other side of the baulk.
It’s definitely coming up, but it’s 88 centimetres below the surface before the clay genuinely switches to this dark silty layer.
So that was that… left with some answers, but only more questions. I really hope that someone will have the opportunity to return to this area soon. What’s especially interesting about it is that no definitely post-1755 material has been found here, and with so much clay between this new layer and the surface, it could very well be that this is a wholly undisturbed Acadian context that’s been safely sealed by the huge amount of clay. That’s rare for us, and intriguing.
But our time this year is up, so our next task was to do the drawings, profiles, and close up the units for backfilling. To do that, we lay down geofabric to mark how far we got and then we dump all of the soil we’ve removed back in to the pit. When – next year or in a future year – someone wants to continue to dig here, they merely have to shovel out the fill until the geofabric is exposed, pull up the geofabric, and voila! It’s just like we left it, ready to continue. Doing this is safer for the resources than leaving a pit open and exposed, though it does take a bit of time, which is the only real downside.
Here’s B which has been fully excavated, but we lay down the geofabric so archaeologists of the future will know that we dug here:
On that note, I’d like it if geofabric came in a colour other than black, since it does seem a bit sombre to be shrouding our pits thus.
We were aided by the Grand-Pré grounds crew in backfilling the units, and then worked at washing, drying and packing up our yurts so they can be returned to the Fortress of Louisbourg.
And, finally, here it is, a shot of our excavation area at the end of the day, with units fully backfilled and everything gone: