Today was the first day of archaeological work at the Stirchley Slag Works (for background see here). When we arrived on site, the whole complex was covered with vegetation - including the remains of a recently-felled tree which had been left in situ scattered across the very archaeological features which we needed to record! Naturally my heart sank, but I had of course under-estimated the resourcefulness of our intrepid team of volunteers.
This was the view at 10.00am...
...and this was the scene at 4.00pm.
In five hours the volunteer team had cleared three large fallen trees, 15 small saplings, half a tonne of fallen wood and a tonne of ivy; they had also removed over half a tonne of topsoil with very little equipment! The full extent of the slag works was also clearer - thanks to various excursions by Nigel, Caroline and others which revealed further extensive concrete structures in the woods.
It was great to see the reunification of 'old hands' who had worked on our previous excavations, but it was also wonderful to welcome new members to the team. Eileen and Maria worked particularly hard on revealing various enigmatic structures - including a timber-dampened engine base (?).
Eileen and Maria are 'Friends of Telford Town Park' (FOTTP), and I was also extremely pleased that Chris - the current chairman of the FOTTP - was able to put in a great deal of hard work in removing various roots, rubble and debris today!
Finally, it is worth mentioning some of today's finds. Those which we can defintiely attribute to the period of the slag works' operation included some teapot and teacup fragments, and a stoneware flagon originating from Wellington. We also found the remains of a sauce (?) bottle marked 'Hazlewood and Co' - if anyone can help identify the maufacturer or supplier then please do get in touch!
Tomorrow most of the team will return to embark on what the project design calls 'a structured programme of archaeological training' involving theory, method and application of recording techniques. I suspect that the team's enthusiasm for chasing interesting features (an enthusiasm shared by myself, the 'professional') may well subvert those good intentions.
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