Stonehenge Excavations

Bluestones and Trilithons

Originally uploaded by lilith_kayt.

I’m in awe… as I type the project I was working on last week is making the national news headlines! It’s been so hard knowing what I was up to, and how amazing it is, and not being able to blog about it ’till today! It’s why I’ve been a bit quiet of late, I didn’t trust myself not to spill the beans early!

I’m not taking part in the actual excavations, and so I’m not going to talk about that part; I will leave that to the experts and to the live feed webcams and updates on the BBC website that has been set up to follow this historical work, here. I strongly urge anyone interested to hop over and have a read- it will be being updated throughout the week. I will be glued to it I expect!

My part was very humble, I was assisting my other supervisor (Tim Darvill being my main one), Paul Cheetham, who is a geophysics expert, in conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey ahead of the excavations, to help locate the previous trench and contextualise the excavation in a wider area. I was so excited to be there, I was like a bouncy six year old kid! I’ve visited before, and driven up the A303 past the monument many times, but I have never been in amongst the stones before.

It’s a totally different experience. Walking on the pathway, you know they are big, you hear the measurements in the descriptions, but you aren’t physically co-present with them in the same way, you can’t see all the little differences in texture and colour, or how they sparkle after the rain. You don’t hear so well how the flat panels of the bigger stone settings throw sound around, and you don’t get a sense of how crowded and claustrophobic the centre of the monument feels to stand in. I’m only 27, and really just starting out in my career, so in many ways, I don’t want this to be the ‘peak’ of my career, but what else could compare, really?

I’m very, very lucky-at the right University, and at the right time in my supervisor’s career to be asked to assist on a project like this. Right now I am so glad I took those risks I talked about a while back, and took the plunge into PhD research and walked out of my comfort zone!

There were a family of what I think were Jackdaws living on the stones. They spent all day playing, tumbling of the stones fighting and calling to each other. I also saw starlings getting very well fed by tourists at the cafe, various birds of prey hoping to snack on fat starlings, the evidence of many many voles living in among the stones, wag tails and many sheep helping keep the grass down! It was a magical two days, and I’m wishing Tim, Geoff and the excavation team lots of luck and great weather for the next two weeks. I’m going to be following their progress with interest on the web, and really hope the survey results prove useful and accurate!

I have more photo’s to put up, taken with a better camera, but I need to wait ’till all the technical ones of the survey in progress have been downloaded first!

Ooh, I should also link to a photoset of mine on Flickr of some work I did last year that is part of the same project, looking at the area the stones came from in the Preseli Hills!

Edited To Add: There is also a page up on the EH website here with video updates and more information about the site, and visiting Stonehenge.

14 thoughts on “Stonehenge Excavations

  1. Stonehenge is Stonehenge. Like I said, it may be a career topping moment, but archaeology gets me so excited generally that I think I’ll have enough enthusiasm to keep me going :)

    Besides, Yellowmead is ‘mine’ which makes it special and exciting in other ways… all I really did here was help out!

  2. I am so monumentally jealous right now! (And yes, pun IS intended). I totally forgive your recent internet silence.

    Lucky, lucky Kayt :D

  3. It was sooo necessary! I had to wait ’till today and was pretty much sitting on my hands. I wanted to say where I was on facebook so much! Had to limit myself to being cryptic instead.

    I feel so lucky and I’m so grateful to whatever gods of fate intervened on my behalf for me to be where I am right now in my life!!

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  5. Thanks very much Paul, I’m now devouring the blog with great enthusiasm! So few are allowed on site that this is the best way for me to follow the goings on!

  6. I am curious as to whether you did 3D GPR or just observed the data in profile mode. Is there anywhere I can see the data?

  7. Shed, we took a very dense survey (10cm intervals) in both X and Y directions, and we are going to 3D/timeslice the data. We did a preliminary processing of it to guide the excavation, and successfully located some of the buried features and the edge of the previous trench. I’m sure this will be published somewhere, but sadly I won’t have much say in who gets to see it! As soon as it is in the public domain I’ll post up with a link to it (as I for one will be pushing for it to be available online).

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