Because it takes very little to persuade me to go clomp round the Vale of Pewsey, I decided to join the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Society’s Archaeology Field Group as they did a spot of fieldwalking in Stanton St Bernard.
The weather was cold, damp and misty, and there had been quite considerable rain in the recent past, judging by the state of the land and the depth of the puddles. Not ideal weather for looking for things.
There were a couple of other factors that rendered me even less useful than might have been: I should wear glasses, and seldom remember this fact, and I currently have a sinus infection, rendering me febrile and exhausted. But I was determined to attend and gain some fieldwalking experience.
I’d been on a ‘finds day’ with the renowned linear-obsessive, Paul Tubb, and could probably tell pottery from stone now. But that was processing things found in bags. Far easier than spotting them on the ground. And warmer, drier, and by far less tiring.
Still, we spent the first hour laying out the grid, which mostly involved doing sums and fighting the wind for custody of the tape. By the end of that hour I was fairly tired after trundling back and forth across a muddy clay-ey field. I’ve always wanted to be a bit taller, but not by the addition of clay to the soles of my feet.
Laying out the fieldwalking grid
That picture doesn’t even begin to describe how muddy it was.
Still, having set out rectangles 50m long and 20 wide, we proceeded to trundle around inside them for 10 minutes picking up stuff and staring at it. It’s quite hard to see stuff that’s covered in sticky mud (especially without glasses). We were supposed to be looking for worked flint, something that I’m quite fond of and attracted to without thinking about it. But I didn’t find any. A few oyster shells, some mediaeval pot sherds, a bit of glazed tile and some post mediaeval bits of pot were about all I managed to see.
I only lasted a few hours before starting to feel really quite unwell, so I scooted off when they stopped for lunch. But it was worth doing.