BAJR Federation Archaeology

Full Version: cleaning the beds of trenches
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hi everyone, I've worked in both Scotland and England and have noticed that very little trench bed cleaning happens in Scotland. I think that this is wrong and am trying to argue the case that trench cleaning should be more routine in Scotland, can colleagues in England please give examples of what is potentially lost without bed cleaning?

I've also assumed that most places in England still do this still the case?
I just put the sheets, pillowcase and duvet cover in the washing machine. If you don't, you lose the potential for a nicer-smelling bed.
I guess hoovering underneath would be a good idea now and then. :face-huh:
Wos a trench bed?
I'd say it depends on the geology in the trench, how neatly it has been machined, how visible the archaeology is, and how much spoil ends up in the bottom.

Some times an obviously 'empty' trench doesn't need cleaning.....though sometimes it should.

Depends on local knowledge of the geology/ archaeology?
That mean its the bottom? What about the sections? 56 to go... }Smile
What my esteemed fellow jock i saying is of course the shovel scrape of the eval trench base. which Dino rightly points out can also be extended to sections...

Like Jack I would say it is dependant on teh soil morphology - and how 'visible' the layers are. It is I would guess a rule of thumb to say.. confirm you can see what is going on... before sitting back and reading a copy of the Guardian/FT/DAily Mail

I recently cleaned the base of a couple of eval trenches to be sure I knew that I was missing nothing. with confidence, I was sure I would 'see' anything that the machining got to.

Once again... experience will matter even more. no point sending out a newbie...

Obviously >> Default : yes - unless, logical argument not to...

there should be an assumption towards demonstrating and providing evidence for claims that archaeology is not present...there should be a traceable/accountable argument if this is not the case.

lots of subtle archaeology can be lost very easily when open-area & eval-trenches are not carefully examination at the correct C or B horizons. (never mind in urban situations !)

'Cleaning' with a machine bucket ('ah yesss, precious clean natural') is frequently vastly inferior, especially if there is anything at all worth finding.

This does not mean all trenches must be fully hand cleaned. As others have said, it is a situational balance, understood through experience. But it should all be open to third party examination, so when a decision is taken to machine deeper, or not clean by hand, it should be a traceable and active decision.

(generally)Crude Methods = crude 'tick-box' results, missing subtle and highly informative details, but apparently passing as acceptable work by bodies such as the IFA, and also the County Archaeologists who sign-off on such work.

I and certainly others have many examples of such shoddiness, where genuinely interesting archaeology was nearly missed because of a lack of cleaning (especially when clearly defined featurs are also present).

This is even acknowledged (kind of) in the non-sense document that seems to have kickstatred the current incarnation of the 'eval-thing' (Hey et al > Archaeological Decision Making) ... i.e. systematic bias against ephemeral and less well defined archaeology, especially in regard of prehistory..........


Experience is essential and necessary > > > but it is not sufficient > indeed the same mistakes can probably be made by some individuals for decades...
If in doubt, give it a clean.

I've recently seen trenches where features visible to the naked eye withuot cleaning appeared to have been missed/ignored until they were pointed out.
Giving the bottom of the trench a decent hoe, if only to make the photos a bit nicer (you are taking photos presumably, even of empty trenches?) should be standard practice. There's plenty of types geology around that will make it unnecessary though, and other examples that leave such a ragged looking trench that to not give it a clean would be criminal. What is missed if you don't? Hard to say really, probably not a lot. Having said that, I've seen evaluation trenches cleaned onto 'natural' only to discover there were features below that anyway, so it's swings and roundabouts really. Depends on your natural, how familiar you are with it, what you are anticipating, experience and so on. Certainly seen a difference between Scottish and English units in terms of report writing for evaluations, the former seemingly happy to provide something so brief as to be virtually meaningless. Discuss.
RedEarth Wrote:Certainly seen a difference between Scottish and English units in terms of report writing for evaluations, the former seemingly happy to provide something so brief as to be virtually meaningless. Discuss.

I think that must depend on who's specifying the work. We always specify in detail what we want to see in a report because it's important to us that the results are suitable and sufficient to satisfy the mounty. It also makes it easier for units at tender statge to price it up, and for us to check that we've got what we asked (are paying) for.
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