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The Big Badsey Dig Update, September 2022

Following the big weekend of the dig, a series of six sessions took place in Ian Gibson’s back garden to deal with the collected material. Awnings were put up to keep the bright summer sunshine at bay. The last Badsey session took place on August 19th before Evesham based Ken took the remaining crates for final labelling. After this they were ready for inspection by the finds expert provided by Worcester Archive and Archaeology Service.

Here are some informal stats about the dig itself to give an idea of the amounts of material involved:

  • Number of Pits excavated – 19
  • Average depth – 0.5 metres
  • Amount of soil dug out and put back – 9.5 cubic metres
  • Weight of soil moved – approx 15.2 metric tonnes
  • Bags of material to be cleaned and sorted – approx 95
  • Weight of possible finds collected by diggers – 40.25 kg
  • Weight of rejected material – approx 17 kg

The accompanying graphic shows the processes involved in preparing the finds for examination by the finds expert.  All the preparation was done by a small band of willing volunteers, without whom the process would have taken much longer. 

Badsey Big Dig

The processes which can be seen to be quite time consuming are:

  • Remove superficial soil from large items such as pieces of natural stone and modern bricks which could then be discarded.
  • Wash and dry on newspaper the remaining material bag by bag so that the contents of every spit of each test pit is kept separate.
  • Examine the remaining material under archaeologist supervision and further discard small stones and shards of modern glass.
  • Remove, weigh and discard pieces of coal and charcoal and note the weights for each spit.
  • Separate and put into labelled bags the other material using the categories of: Pottery, Ceramics and building material, Metal, Slag products, Old glass and Bone.
  • Mark up all Individual pieces of pottery. This involves painting an edge with PVA glue to seal the surface. When dry the edge is lettered with archive quality ink in either black or white depending on the colour of the pottery. The data identifies the dig site number, pit number and spit level of the item.

The bags are then grouped in order of pit number ready for examination by the finds' expert.  Each bag is labelled as follows:

WSM  71429    Site ID for Badsey
TP  3/2              Example shown with test pit number and spit level
Metal                Type of material in bag

With 19 Pits to deal with this results in a lot of small bags to deal with i.e. over 400.

Then the results can be collated and a report written which will be used as the basis for an illustrated talk to be given in due course.

As at mid-September the finds analysis is booked to be finished by mid-November. This delay is caused by a shortage of archaeologists available with the relevant specialist knowledge. Also Badsey is part of a group of six villages in Worcestershire, whose finds are also in the queue to be examined.

Ian Gibson, September 2022