The third day of archaeological survey at Basing House is over, and the survey teams are really getting in to the swing of things. The two minibuses arrived at 9.20am, driving from sunny Southampton into mist and freezing temperatures around Basingstoke, ready for another exciting day at the site.
The teams dispersed to their allocated areas of work, some on the breastwork of the siege defences around the old house, some to the Knot Garden, some to the barn and team B to the old house. The practice that the students have been getting in the last few days has really paid of. The teams working around the outside of the ringwork and ditch of the old house, and on the bastions, got into the swing of taking elevation spot levels and defining the top and tail of the major earthworks. In the area of the Knot Garden, the walls of the garden were surveyed and the more subtle nauances of the garden topography were also covered.
I spent most of the time however with the team in the old house. The last few days they have been surveying spot elevations, and the top of the ringwork surrounding the old house. Today they shifted to red laser work to record the tail of the ringwork slope, and then commenced with the more subjective analysis of the earthworks within the area of the old house. They spent time assessing the nature of the gradients of slope covering the remains of the old house, and then recording in detail the tops and bottoms of each slope, indicating the presence of walls, courtyards and rooms within the ringwork.
The detailed work got some debate flowing between the students about the nature of the various earthworks, and their relationship to the exposed and excavated remains of the house.
Waling around the outer ditch of the workings, the other teams, having covered their initial survey areas, began traversing the earthworks, recording the top and base of the substantial defensive ditch. In the afternoon Lizzie Richley and Tim Sly broke out the Smartnet GPS to start surveying some of the unrecorded features between the old house and the Knot Garden.
The most pleasant task of the afternoon however went to the team surveying the outer ditch work adjacent to the outer tower of the old house, starting in the ditch, an rising to the top of the outer bank of the ringwork.
Best re-use of an ancient feature went to the tea-brewing at the site mid-morning, with our little stove sheltered from the wind, brewing tea to keep the hands of the surveyers warm.
However, most heart-warming part of the day came with the late Winter sunshine in the middle of the afternoon, and the sight of snowdrops and mistletoe in the area of the Basingstoke canal earthworks. A sign that Spring is finally on its way.
The results of the survey are definitely coming together, with two more days of topographic survey to go. Check out the project blog at basinghousecat.wordpress.com.