|17. Post Excavation Work
One of the most time consuming
aspects of the Groupís work takes place very much behind the scenes.
During any excavation many finds come to light and each one then has to
he made the subject of close examination, washing and perhaps other
treatment. Each find is also marked with a code to confirm precisely
from where it originally came.
Some finds such as iron and bones are
fragile and therefore require "first-aid". Initial treatment
serves to arrest the process of decay. Other finds are so fragile that
decay to some degree is inevitable. In those circumstances an x-ray is
taken as well as a conventional photograph. The Group is fortunate to
have close contact with the County Museum Service through Dartford
Borough Museum and in this way it can ensure that objects receive the
best and safest form of treatment in the course of conservation.
Excavations dealing with sites from
the Iron Age onwards yield in the most part finds which are
predominantly of pottery in its many and varied forms. It is most
unusual to discover complete pots. Normally one excavation will reveal
hundreds perhaps thousands of individual fragments. Tentersí Hill
Field Romano-British villa site alone produced over ten thousand pieces
A careful analysis of the pot sherds
from any one site makes it possible to create a picture of domestic life
at the time in question. It becomes possible to tell the difference for
example between which pots were used in the kitchen area and which were
tableware. It is also possible to take the researches further and to
obtain a clearer view as to the pots made and traded locally and those
coming from further afield.
During the Romano-British
period (AD43-AD410) some areas producing pottery exported their wares
over very wide areas. One such type of pottery was samian ware which was
manufactured in the south, central and eastern areas of Gaul (now
France). Other centres for the production of such pottery existed in
this country and included Oxford, the Farnham area and Peterborough.
Examples from all these production centres have been found on our sites
As examination of the finds from any one
site continues, it becomes possible to form a detailed picture of the
lives of the people who lived and worked on the sites centuries ago.
Other finds which can help considerably in this regard include fragments
of bones. By looking at the bones themselves it is possible to determine
the animal of origin and to ascertain its age at death and whether it
might have been used for food or some other purpose. The bone might for
example have come from a six month old lamb or from a three year old
sheep. In the former case the lamb was probably slaughtered for food and
in the latter the sheep was perhaps kept for its wool producing
Just as questions arise as to the
area in which the pottery discovered was originally manufactured,
similar enquiries are caused by the discovery of some metal objects .
Iron, bronze and Lead artifacts are commonly
discovered and by tracing the areas in which such metals were mined or
quarried, and later worked, further information is obtained as to trade
and industry in these products.
The study of finds and then sorting
and cataloguing is an essential step on the way to publication of
reports about our excavations. Although time consuming, these researches
are in their own right fascinating, providing as they do an insight into
the lives of the inhabitants of Dartford over the centuries.