Today it is pouring with rain and blowing a gale, but we’ve had some good weather which has meant we have been able to make good progress at Presaddfed. CADW kindly let us extend the trench next to the collapsed dolmen as we just picked up a feature in the edge of the trench. In order to understand this properly we needed more than the 10cm x 10cm bit that was exposed. So the trench was extended and as we suspected, this feature is a scoop hearth cut into the natural. Yesterday we sectioned this feature and it is packed with charcoal which is great news as we will be able to get the charcoal identified and radiocarbon dated. Next to the hearth is the remains of a fairly knackered post-hole. It appears to have once held a small post, which has then been wiggled out of place, making the sides of the original cut rather ragged. We also have a rammed stone platform round the edge of the dolmen, more of which is showing up in the extended trench. This has been planned and so first thing tomorrow when the sun is shining we will be able to excavate this. It almost certainly relates to the construction of the monument – which is our primary research objective. If we are really lucky this will also contain charcoal or other organic material which we can radiocarbon date.
We have also opened a final trench at Presaddfed, just beyond the standing dolmen. This has been carefully placed so as not to disturb any surviving chamber deposits, and not affect the structural integrity of the monument. As such, it is quite a modest trench, just 1m x 3m. However, more of the rammed stone platform has started to appear here, as well as the edge of a pit which we think is where the capstone was cut from the earth (just as at Garn Turne) – and again, if we are really lucky we will be able to recover organic material for radiocarbon dating.
While the archaeology has started to appear, one of the most remarkable things about the excavation is the lack of finds. We have just 5 pieces of flint, two of which were from trench B (the quarry). We’ve collected both black chert and quartz, but none of these pieces looks convincing. We have a few likely-looking hammerstones, but otherwise this is not a site with much material culture. While this may seem to be disappointing, actually this seems to support our idea that these sites were all about the construction of the monument, and not its subsequent use – although of course things were probably put in the chamber, and we have not investigated these here.
We’ve got a week left and it looks like we will know quite a bit more about this site by the end. With the planning done, tomorrow should be an exciting day for learning more about the construction of these dolmen monuments.