Saturday, July 4, 2009

Savage 1988: 11 Epilogue

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Today, the morning of the reunion, it seemed appropriate to mark the occasion with the epilogue from Richard Savage's 1988 booklet. Thanks go to him and the Crickley Hill Trust for permission to reproduce this final abstract:

11 Epilogue

The first season of excavation at Crickley took place in 1969. In the eighteen annual seasons since more than 3000 unpaid volunteers from all over the world have worked on the site, excavating over half of the hill-fort interior. The work is organised as a research and training excavation by Dr P. W. Dixon, of the University of Nottingham.

An archaeological excavation aims to derive an account of past human activity is aside from the traces it is left behind. The methods of excavation must be responsive to the minutest details - at Crickley, for example, of the wear and discolouration of stone, or of differences in soil texture - and the smallest objects, such as fragments of flint, bone, charcoal or fired clay, must be recovered. All the work at Crickley is done by hand, mostly using brushes and small trowels, with which nearly five acres have been excavated in the first eighteen seasons. Over a million finds have been made.

The essence of excavation is its precise recording in drawing, measurement, photograph and verbal description. At Crickley every stone in every layer has to be accurately planned, and, as at other sites, the recording system for finds includes among other information precise co-ordinates and exhaustive tabulation of their context. Samples of soil are taken from which environmental remains are extracted including seeds, snail shells and other organic debris. Later processing of the records, fines and samples - "post-excavation" work - is as important as the excavation itself; indeed, without it the excavation would have no meaning; and it is at least as difficult. The last stage of the work is before publication of the data and their interpretation, making the result of the work on the site permanently available to the specialist and laymen alike.

[Photo: excavation of the final Iron Age wall]

Since 1976 the project has been managed by the Crickley Hill Archaeological Trust, an educational charity whose work on the hill is supported entirely by voluntary contributions. The Trust's responsibilities include post-excavation work - much of which has been done by successive teams working on the Manpower Services Commission's Community Programme, whose support the Trust gratefully acknowledges - and publication. This will be done in a number of volumes, of which the first, on the Iron Age defences, is ready for press at the time of writing. The Trust also provides an educational service which, with help from Westbury Homes, Ltd., Warners Fairfax Travel and the Manpower Services Commission, runs a mobile exhibition illustrating the archaeology of the hill. This is housed in a coach and can be booked the visits to schools, colleges, other institutions, associations, and public events. Representatives of the Trust regularly give lectures on its work.

In August 1974 the owner of the greater part of the site, Tom Morris, Esq., D.L.C., most generously presented it to Gloucestershire County Council. Crickley Hill has since become a Country Park managed jointly by the County Council and the National Trust, which owns the remainder of it.

If research sheds a brilliant light on one site which was long in use, like a lamp in a dark street it makes the surrounding shadows seem more obscure. Figures show briefly in the light, then leave; others taking their place are in their turn chased away, and so the story goes on, at Crickley through 25 or 30 episodes. Often the ring of light lies empty, for these are incidents in busy lives, mostly lived beyond the limit of our vision, in the neighbouring uplands and the Vale below.

[Photo: Crickley Hill from the west]"

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