May 2019 Excavation
The September 2018 excavation (Trench 8), our largest excavation to date, investigated the outer face of the South wall of the Keep. We were unable to excavate the trench fully at that time so this excavation, a 5x5m trench designated T8W, extends the September excavation to the Southwest corner of the Keep. This trench was wider than September, extending Northwards to locate the inner face, which will allow us to measure the thickness of the South wall as well as further examine the later ground-level entrance. We have now excavated, examined and measured almost the complete circuit of Keep walls that are accessible to us (some parts are covered by the circuit of metal railings) and can now draw a accurate plan of the Keep.
The excavation proceeded much like previous years with the removal of overburden and excavating to the bottom course of the South and West faces, some 2m below the level of the turf. This exposed the Southwest corner of the Keep to find that the walls has been subject to extensive disturbance and robbing of stone in the past. Only the course of large bi-faced stones that form the base of the Keep, a few damaged facing stones and the truncated wall core remain in-situ.
Along the Southwest corner of the remaining Keep wall there was an area of large fallen stones in close proximity to each other. Most of these had been finely worked, and although most were damaged, they may have once been connected parts of a structure. Several of the larger stones had one face carved in an arc, each having a similar radius. By measuring and averaging the radius of the arcs it was found that, if part of a continuous circular structure, this would have had an internal diameter of 1.9m (around 6.5ft), suggesting they could have formed the internal wall of a spiral staircase. On top of the truncated wall core there were traces of a circular feature having the same diameter supporting our conclusion that the staircase was within the Southwest clamping buttress.
The Eastern limit of the trench re-excavated a small portion of last years’ trench to expose the Western edge of the entrance mentioned in the Sept 2018 report. The trench also extended further to the North than last year which enabled us to locate the inner edge of the Keep wall which allowed us to measure the walls width. The South wall was found to be 4.2m wide at this point, substantially wider than the 2.4 to 2.8m of the other three walls, which supports our theory that the original external entrance to the Keep may have been an enclosed linear staircase within the South wall.
Similar to last year there was a flagstone surface laid level with the lowest bi-faced course of the Keep’s South wall which was not seen on the West side. As the flagstones did not appear to be mortared into place a decision was taken to lift these stones, 12 in all, to excavate beneath to look for dating evidence. A number of shards of a decorated green-glazed pottery were found, possibly from the same pot, a few animal bones and some charcoal. The animal bone and charcoal can potentially give a Radiocarbon date and a decision to send samples to be dated will be taken soon.The excavation provided relatively few finds; other than modern coins and other material along with a few pottery shards, some metal pieces such as hand made nails and musket balls, a few animal bones and also a small possibly 18th century shoe buckle.
We have now excavated the accessible parts of all four walls of the Keep along with part of the interior (the basement) allowing us to take measurements to produce an accurate plan. A more detailed plan along with a fuller analysis of our findings will be posted in the near future. Although our excavation in September 2019 will focus on the unexpected structure to the East of the Keep, the last planned large excavation, we intend to undertake smaller excavations in 2020 to examine the perimeter of the mound that may contain additional features.