I am still not certain that the structure in Trench 5 is a refinery. There is no evidence for water cooling, and it seems unusually small for a refinery. It is also not clear what the running-out arrangements were. Whatever it is, it is an intriguing and important discovery from this increasingly marvellous site. The photograph below shows the full extent of it after cleaning.
The three hearths which we have excavated have survived differently, but together provide a very helpful picture of the process. We have been very lucky this time to be able to take samples which will be analysed over the coming months to confirm the provisional diagnosis. The photograph below shows the central hearth (No.2), as seen looking south from the running-out area.
Meanwhile, up at the embankment, further excavation revealed the complex mysteries of a large culvert, some brick walls and some other structures. The photograph below shows the quite magnificently crafted brickwork above the flue; the one below that shows the whole structure at the end of yesterday's mammoth effort - more sterling work by the marvellous volunteers in what was by this time quite heavy rain.
Compare this photograph with the 'before' photograph in the first post of this sequence to see just how much work has been achieved. In the same vein, somehow Malcolm and Nigel found time to go back up to the calcining oven and clear away the vegetation. This was the result...
...again, it is worth comparing the 'before' and 'after' views from Friday's post to show just how hard everyone has been working. In fact at some point I will compile 'before' and 'after' photographs of various elements of the whole Town Park project just to show how proud I am of all of our lovely volunteers, without whom none of these exciting discoveries would have been made.
So what next? Well, we do hope to return to the furnaces in 2013, and we are planning to undertake further work on other elements of this fascinating industrial landscape as well. Unfortunately our current round of Lottery funding has come to an end... however we are hoping to put together a bid for more money to continue our research, as well as undertaking the conservation of this and other sites.
Finally - and most importantly - regular readers of this blog (and indeed project participants) will have noted the absence of our most important volunteer. Moss has developed a liver infection and has had to go into a veterinary clinic for emergency treatment. She is fighting hard, and we all have our fingers crossed for her... many thanks to everyone around the world who have sent their best wishes to Moss. Despite her illness she found time to visit the site on Saturday morning in order to make an inspection.