Suburban Archaeology

Yesterday was supposed to be all Ground Force, but rapidly went Time Team. Half of Team Spinneyhead, Simon and Spikey headed off to help Sabs and Griff lay a lawn. This should have been easy- we just needed to turn the topsoil, remove the larger stones and roots and rake it level- but we really should have got geo-phys in first.

We started the first exploratory trench roughly a metre (three of Damian’s feet) in from the fence. I had only gone a short distance with the fork before hitting the first evidence of an ancient 1970’s settlement. Swapping the fork for a crowbar I was soon striding around lifting buried paving slabs and bricks left, right and centre. There were three distinct strata- a top layer of soil, laid down over the ash of a traditional bon fire (or ceremonial gravel), atop classic concrete paving slabs. There were also possible traces of asbestos. The fact that previous owners had not dug up the garden and merely thrown stuff on top marked them down as being from the Lazy Bastard clan.

The paving covered about half the garden, all buried 4 to 6 inches below the surface. With the rain interrupting play, you can guess that no turf went down yesterday, in fact the garden now looks a lot like Glastonbury circa 1997. As I’m on my Easter break I have volunteered to help any day next week that it isn’t raining (though the forecast isn’t looking that promising). If I do more manual work maybe I won’t ache so much next time.

Towards the end of the day we were getting a little bit battle weary, with hysterical giggles every time we turned over another slab exactly where we’d divined they’d be. Thoughts turned (via a snail, obviously) to which French woman we’d rather be inside. I volunteered Vanessa Paradis, providing she doesn’t sing, or Audrey Tautou, because of Amelie and my penchant for quirky brunettes.


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