Welcome to our 13th season, at Saveock Water Archaeology. What we do.
Advantages of digging at Saveock Water Archaeology
4 miles from site
Non fiction by Jacqui Wood
Signed copies available
Click on the cover to see images from the book.
Signed copies available
April 2013 - August 2013
21st - 25th July
no longer available.
YES WE DO START THE WEEK ON A SUNDAY
DIG DIARY 2008 DIG DIARY 2009
A ritual pool with some very interesting finds !
Religion or Ritual ?
Witches of Cornwall !
International Lecturer and Author
Papers & Articles by Jacqui
Mesolithic Studies in the North Sea Basin and Beyond: Proceedings of a conference held at Newcastle in 2003.
Archaeology Experiences Sprituality
Edited by Dragos Gheorghiu
Well we are just about to start our 13th season at Saveock. During our April dig week last season we were filming with National Geographic in partnership with Channel 5 for a documentary about the site. The weather was horrendous, cold and very wet and two of our local team members Ryan and Sarah assisted by Lottie tried to excavate a pit each on camera. Unfortunately both pits turned out to be empty so they are going to broadcast the video I made when I excavated the Goat pit last year. The programme will be aired on Chanel 5 in the Autumn and National Geographic Chanel in the new year.
We also hosted a Council for British archaeology event at Saveock in March demonstrating Ancient Cooking techniques primarily. BBC local TV filmed it and the tasting of clay baked trout and water pit cooked lamb went down very well with the public in our new roundhouse.
In fine Time Team tradition during the last dig week of the 2011 season we excavated a Neolithic Leaf arrowhead and a number of fire cracked stones indicating a cooking area. Both these items are a first at Saveock. So we started digging that area to see if we were right that it might be a feasting area next to the Neolithic ritual pool in trench A1. The arrowhead could have been embedded in some meat being cooked by the firestones. This is just an idea, and it will probably be something completely different! That is the joy of digging here it is never predictable! Unfortunately last season was so wet we could not do hardly any digging on the clay platform or we would have damaged it so if it is dry this season we should be able to continue what we started last season. So last season we opened up a completely different area and as usual at Saveock were amazed and baffled at what we found. Underneath an ancient soil layer dated to the Bronze Age from pottery excavated in it there is some sort of furnace which we are thinking might have been for tin smelting. We have a Bronze Age furnace on another part of the site and when it is hot the area is covered with copper sulphates but this furnace has no copper residue in it. Also above this furnace is a hearth like feature that has large clusters of clear crystals set into it. Again ritual comes to mind but this is the area we are going to start the season digging so we will see.
We are now taking bookings for next season, our prices are just a little up on last year £200 per week and an optional extra £25 per week if you want lunches. Otherwise you can bring a packed lunch.
You will also be able to
buy signed copies of my books
‘Prehistoric Cooking’ and ‘Tasting the Past’ direct from me
Again I feel I need to
emphasise that this dig is a training dig,
but it is training out in the field not in a lecture room. Novice
diggers will for the first few days be digging topsoil, but it will
be topsoil we have not dug before so you will be doing real
archaeology from day one. If it is wet we will do post excavation
work which is just as important to any dig as trowelling is.
We believe that the best place to learn is in the field doing what professional archaeologists do. Class room teaching is no substitute for getting your hands dirty and emptying buckets. We do have set features on site to teach section drawing and planning but these are real features not made up ones. You will be taught on a one to one basis how to plan on a very tricky part of the main site and at the end of the day we lay your plan over the one we have done of the feature so you can really learn how to plan. It is no good telling someone their test plan is great and then they go to another dig with a feeling they are brilliant at planning only to find they have a bit more to learn about the subject. Learning excavation techniques is not rocket science but after a bit of practice in the field everyone can do it.
Once a week we do spend an
hour in my lecture room with a slide show of the other work I do which is
Experimental Archaeology. I worked on the ‘Ice Man’ ‘Otzi’ artefacts for the
museum where he is exhibited in
There is a tour of our facilities page, so you can see we are not a Porta cabin in a muddy field. We are a well equipped research excavation that believes archaeology should be available to anyone who wants to learn how to dig. For those of you new to the site for the first time here is a brief synopsis of the earlier phase of the excavation in this sheltered river valley in Mid Cornwall. The site covers a period from the Mesolithic to 17th century Pagan Swan feather pits (more information about these can be found by clicking on the link in the Feather Pits, and Goat pit sections on the right of this page).
In the Mesolithic the main site trench was over a south facing peat bank on the bend of a river that was between two shallow lakes. This entire site has been purposely covered with various different coloured clays in an attempt to make the river bank a suitable place for dwellings. In the area A/2 the first phase of the site, is what we believe to be a Mesolithic dwelling platform covered with dense green clay surrounded by stony yellow clay in which the stakes to support the dwelling were driven. The next phase we believe (and the jury is still out on this) is the use of the constant spring line to make some sort of Neolithic ritual area. We say ritual because we cannot think of any conceivable reason why people would make stone lined drains covered with 30cm of green admix clay. Then manufacture a large rectangular pool lined with white quartz cores, unless it was for some ritual purpose. In season five (2005) we found another rectangular pool next to the original this one only fills with water from a spring in the bank at the back of it in mid Winter.
These features are at present unique in Cornish or from what we have researched British archaeology. The only similar feature we have found is the Neolithic clay platform that is underneath the Maeshowe monument on Orkney. A trench put into this platform revealed a stone lined drain almost identical to ours. So if you feel like a bit of adventure and learn how to dig at the same time come and join us in our 13 th season.