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Excavations and Finds

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Week 3 – report of work for disabled access, toilet and kitchen

Although work has been confined mainly to the inside of the church, we have made significant progress during this third week. The following has been achieved:

✔ With the help of Derek, the pair of us cut some of the mortise and tenon joints that will form the pair of new oak gates for the north entrance.

✔ The font was moved to a temporary position by jacking it up and inserting steel rollers beneath. A 12” square hole was revealed beneath and we have shown the archaeologist the discovery. Some of the stones that were used to fill the void were interesting. One piece, in particular looked like it was carved to form a boss from a vaulted ceiling. Another couple of pieces of stone were dressed and showed signs of soot. My theory is that the roof of the parvis room might have once been stone vaulted before replacing it with a wooden structure and covered in lead. There is still a short chimney stack, indicating that a fireplace was part of the east wall. I believe the small stones we found under the font were redundant parts from this refurbishment. Russell and Roger worked on cleaning up the tiles after moving the font.

✔ Richard Cherrington, the archaeologist also inspected the shallow hole in the corner of the toilet area. Having removed some of the floor tiles and excavated to a depth of approximately .5 metre prior to his arrival, the dig revealed a large flat stone. Whilst Richard monitored the continuation of the dig, we were disappointed to find nothing of any significance beneath.
Digging finally ceased at a depth of 1.2M.

✔ Will, and his two employees Jon and Doug, used machinery to remove the ceramic tiles and limecrete that I laid on the rubble floor over twenty years ago when myself and a team of villagers removed the seven short pews by the bell tower. Fortunately, limecrete is not as difficult to remove as the much harder concrete might have been. An area approximately 3M x 1.4M was dug by hand and the spoil tipped on the grass on the right of the north front approach steps. One or two small pieces of bone were discovered as well as remnants of cut and faced stone that had been previously used for one reason or another.

Digging to a depth of 30cm below existing porch floor level, Will discovered a small flat cut piece of stone. Upon lifting the stone, he discovered a stone trench, or culvert of approximately 25cm square cross-section. Knowing that the porch is the oldest remaining part of the church, and that the floor level of the main section of the church was raised, this culvert would have been just below ground level. However, it is more interesting that it continues on a curve, passing beneath the steps up to the belfry. Hence, it must be rather old. Richard, the archaeologist is anxious to inspect this discovery when he visits again next Monday.

✔ The investigatory trench to locate the water pipe on the south side of the church also served to accommodate the large diamond drilling machine that was needed to drill two holes through the south wall. Confirming my suspicions, the trench finally exposed a water pipe at a depth of over 90cm, having first revealed the gas pipe and a very large clay drain of approximately
20cm diameter. I believe this pipe carries the water from the two downpipes from the south wall gutter to an eventual soak away, somewhere else in the graveyard.

On Friday, the drilling company drilled the two holes through the wall from outside. The first hole is at an external depth of 30cm below ground level to pierce the inside face of the 75cm thick wall in the toilet area, some 1.3M below inside floor level to facilitate the soil pipe for the toilet and basin wastes. This hole will also accommodate the new water pipe, having first connected it to the existing blue water pipe outside, under the gas pipe. A second hole, 12.5cm diameter, was drilled approximately 2M high in the same area for the extractor fan.
Altogether, a very satisfying exercise…
John Pinch

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