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Work Experience

Work Experience 2015

Students from Welshpool and Llanfyllin High Schools and the Swansea Valley spent a week with CPAT staff in July to experience the many aspects of being an archaeologist. After a morning of introductions in the office at Welshpool on Monday they were shipped out to the beautiful valley of the Vyrnwy at Mathrafal near Meifod where they were given the opportunity to try surveying, excavation, photography, planning and section drawing.

The 2008 geophysical survey results

Monday 13/07/15

Megan Chapman

Day 1

Today we arrived in Mathrafal, Meifod, Powys to uncover a Bronze Age double ring ditch. We have come to see it because the National Eisteddfod is in the neighbouring field and the field the ditch is in is to be the car park. The ditches were created as part of an old ritual for the burial of important people. It was believed that the site was a burial ground with two barrows nearby. The ring was dug up around the remains of the person and soil was placed on top to cover it. Over time, the ditches are filled in with various fills and as they are different to the surrounding clay thereís a noticeable difference in colour and texture. At first we thought there was one ring but with the help of geophysical technology we noticed that there might be a second ring indicating that it might be a henge (a ritual site), rather than a ring ditch. Both rings had entrances pointing northeast that can be seen on the geophysical images. The inner ring is approximately 25m in diameter. To conclude, we have come to confirm the ditches are there and so we know what its layout or formation is like before any further damage that may occur when the field is being used as a car park or at any other time in the future.

First of all we re-located the grid references as in 2008 they were incorrectly drawn due to a fault with the GPS and slight lack of organisation. This took a few hours to do and once complete we began setting guidelines for where we were to place our trench. After that, we removed the turf from it using shovels. Each square was lifted and placed aside, creating a wall of turf. This task was completed by the end of the working day and the next task was set for day 2.

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Viviana showing some visitors the trench

Tuesday 14/07/15

Arran Faux-Nightingale

Day 2

Today was the second day on the project. After the de-turfing we did yesterday, we uncovered the next layer today using mattocks. We used them in pairs and then shoveled the loose soil out into piles. Then a team of trowlers worked to clear the loose dirt away to get a better look at the ground underneath. We didnít find anything therefore we mattocked another layer in hope of finding the ditch. After we didnít find anything and so we proceded by trowling the area so that most of the loose dirt was gone again. By doing this the hard clay underneath was more visable and we looked for the ditch but again, to no avail. Because of this, by the end of the day, we decided that the henge was to deep so we had to get a machine.

The mini digger hard at work with the Eisteddfod in the background

Wednesday 15/07/15

Jonathan Monk

Day 3

We arrived at the trench at approximately 9:30. Using a digger another layer off of the trench was cleared. We used the trowels to clear the loose dirt from the ground and used small hand shovels to clear the dirt giving us a clearer view of the ground below. There was still no change in the colour of the clay or other evidence of the ditch. As a result, we used the digger once again to create a sondage which is a sub-section of the trench. We trowelled and cleared the soil from the sondage and hit some gravel. The gravel is not what we hoped to find as it is believed that the gravel is the deposition of an old river. Meanwhile a team with measuring tapes attempted to create a grid which would locate the trench for future archaeologists if the site is revisited and to keep as a record of the trench. After finishing the job, we left the site at approximately 3:45.

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Arran, Meg and Jon doing hard work!

Thursday 16/07/15

Megan Chapman

Day 4

We began today at the site taking measurements of the site like re-measuring the grid references. This was achieved by using trigonometry. By measuring along the fence and the ends of the trench, we used offsetting. Offsetting is a way of locating a future trench to the correct measurements.

Later in the day, we drew out a plan which was a birdís eye view of the trench itself showing the layers cut out and to an accurate size scaled down. Two of us were asked to measure the depth of the trench and the beginning/end of each layer. By calling out and plotting on our graph four points per metre we were able to get a fairly accurate image of the trench cross section which showed the layers and the gravel we found which was natural. This is called a section.

After doing this, we used the dumpy level to measure the distance between point A and the pylon and the measure the depth of the trench and different distances. And finally to round off our days work, we labelled the different layers using numbers like thisÖ turf = (01), top soil = (02) etc. These are called context numbers. We packed the van and left the site at around 3:50.

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Meg and Viviana relieved with it being over

Friday 17/07/15

We arrived at the site at approcimatly 9.20 and innitally the machine which we were hoping would help back-fill the trench was not there so we started the back-filling ourselves and we partially filled the trench for 20 mins untill the machine arrived. When the machine arrived it quicky backfilled the trench in reverce order to how we dug it. During this time we scraped up loose dirt that was left and I wrote some entries for my official work log for this weekís excercises. After the digger had finished we re-turfed the ground with the turf we dug up on Monday. Once we had done that, we were left with a mound of airated dirt which we ran over with the digger to compress and then we packed up and left at aproximatly 12.30.

Staff in CPAT will in due corse write a official report on this project.As the last part of our placement we were asked to produce this webpage.

Megan Chapman

Arran Faux-Nightingale

Information gathered, prepared and presented by Arran Faux-Nightingale, Megan Chapman, Johnathon Monk, Viviana Culshaw and Jeff Spencer, July 2015.

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