News from Explainer volunteer Mark
Monday and Tuesday were the opening days of the 2017 Dig at the Castle. Having removed the soil, last year's excavations were exposed and the team rapidly got to grips with cleaning, marking measuring and photographing the site. Other tasks were undertaken, especially the sifting of large amounts of soil for any remains. Various artefacts were found including pottery, slate, animal bones and, perhaps best of all, a bone handle of a knife, with crude but delicate markings.
Interspersed amongst this work were various activities; a tour of the grounds with the City Archaeologist, sessions on pottery identification and, most spectacularly, a trip down Mortimer's Hole that was expertly guided with entertaining flamboyance, yet with a thorough explanation of the importance of the cave system in the history of the Castle.
During the two days, the dig attracted a fair number of visitors and as a volunteer Explainer my task was to try and interpret what was going on beyond the viewing platform. I was surprised by the number of foreign visitors. It included people and families from around the world including Pakistan, Malaysia, Greece, France, Belgium, and a fair smattering of disconsolate English cricket fans trying to fill an empty day after a four day defeat in the test match, as well as one or two far happier South Africans. Most expressed a real interest in the excavations and a desire to know more about the Castle and its history.