St Marys Headland,
Dig - August 1999
Day 9 - Thursday
26th August 1999
The Weather Forecast
We've given up on it folks! Archaeologist are sometimes accused
of making up stories but yesterday afternoon and today makes weather forecasting
more of a fairy tale than archaeology.
09:00. Its a beautiful morning with a bit of a breeze. It looks
to be set fair for the day.
There is an air of well-being - even a "feel-good-factor" - in Trench
AX (extension to Trench A) this morning and it emanates from Liz.
She is smiling and singing strange ditties with the occasional "Red Army"
or chorus of "Singing in the Rain" easily distiguished amongst the general
Occasionally she becomes Bob Dillon and there's an outburst of "The
times they are a-changing".
Her normal red hat has been replaced by a peaked hat and she's wearing
a red & white striped shirt. Over towards Seaham Hall a car is parked
which is also decked out with a red & White banner extolling the virtues
of Lizs favourite football team.
"Record it, Ed, so that I can remember the date we beat the Mags at
St James' Park", she shouts. She is referring of course to the fact
that last night Sunderland beat Newcastle 2-1 in a Premiership match at
St James Park in torrential rain. The picture below says it all.
Certification: This is to certify that this
picture was taken
on Thursday 26th August 1999 and that the
night Sunderland AFC beat Newcastle AFC 2-1
at St. James Park.
Poor Jamie, a Mag fanatic, had quietly disappeared
from the scene to avoid Liz's gloating.
0915. Liz has settled down a bit now and
is hard at work digging in the extension trench.
Jim points out that when the new metal object
was removed it could be seen that it closely resembles one of those previously
The new metal object is marked C. It
is clearly like object B
though nothing matching object A has yet been
10:00. The Dig'99 team are well at work
as the BBC TV team arrive. Only two, mind, which probably indicates
that the BBC are trying to give us value for the extra £24 a year
we will be paying for TV licences. Still it's not the fault of the
"Meet the Ancestors" team, Bill Locke (Producer) and Lydia Wilson.
Lydia is a researcher and proved it by finding the way to Dig'99 from East
Anglia where they had been filming previously. They spend some time
with Naill and Jim who explain what the site is all about and by 10:30
are taking shots for their archives.
"Meet the Ancestors". Bill Locke (camera)
and Lydia Wilson (sound) recording on-site.
There was plenty for Bill Locke to see on his visit to the site.
We hope he picked up the very careful way in which these earliest Harbour
Lads and/or Lasses are treated by the diggers. There is, of course
the "need to know" factor but it is also important that these individuals
in their final resting places are treated with respect.
15:30 The team have worked extremely hard and there are a plethera
of skeletons now exposed. Clearly, there have been individuals buried
on top of others. Some skulls seemed to be separate from any related
body. There are a whole range of questions to be asked about the
However there has been a find which may prove to be even more interesting.
Along the edge of one grave in Trench A, mixed with skeleton C5, two nails
have been found.
The nails have a square (pyramidal) head and might indicate that at some
point this skeleton was buried in a box with a nailed-down top. This
is the first indication of a coffin of any kind. All other burials
appear to have been in a shroud. We will try to bring you a better view
of the nails tomorrow if they have not been shipped off site. It
is, however, possible that they were taken away since work continued until
Trench A. The position of the two nails are indicated
The site is littered with skeletons after todays work and it has become
difficult to place them on a Trench Map. We will examine our video record
to assist in this and attempt to add an updated Trench Map for Trench A
and its extension. For now her are a couple of picture to give you
are impression of where everything is located.
There are skeletons everywhere. All those
shown are align W-E spread along the east walls of Trenches A and AX.
Trench AX looking towards the south.
The arrows indicate roughly where skeletons
have been exposed.
The Team are now running out of time to lift all
the skeletons which have been exposed. At some point tomorrow a halt
will be called and the JCB will be brought in to re-instate the field into
its original condition.
The team had a Dig'99 Dinner (Two for the Price One) at the Phoenix
tonight. Nobody ordered the Spare Ribs.
As mentioned earlier many of the Team worked until
20:00 hours to remove skeletons. The dedication to the task has been
most impressive throughout but particularly today.
Let us have your feedback.