b'Backgarden Archaeology at No. 11Part 2Mike & Kate PrattThe Digging Continues Local Coarse Ware!After finishing our first Test Pit 1 , we had no problemWeek by week, Kate continued to take the pottery knowing where to sink our second. We needed asherds 2to the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) soak-away at the end of a range of outbuildingssessions in York for identification as they emerged and a few years previously, just in the right spot, wefrom the ground. Immediately we started to hit had found a large flat stone under the soil surface.problems. The copious examples of one particular Thinking there could be remains of a structure we felttype of pottery were quickly labelled local coarse compelled to investigate further. ware meaning difficult to date. Finer pottery that Nothing out of the ordinary was found until weoccurs over wider areas nationally, even internationally, were about 40cms down when a type of potteryhas been seen and documented by more started to emerge that hadnt been noticed in thearchaeologists and is therefore easier to date.first test pit. We werent hopeful of finding much ofWe received a wide range of dating assessments it, however, as we expected to hit the natural subsoiland we were told that it would help if more rim and at 50cms based on our previous, admittedly limited,base pieces were found as they can be identified experience. more easily. Miraculously, once mentioned they started to appear from the pit but the dating situation did not A Bottomless Pit! improve immediately. We looked for every opportunity We were in for a surprise. We kept on goingto show it to archaeologists until we had obtained six through layer after layer, finding more and more ofassessments:the same pottery, plus animal bones and many once-smooth but now cracked stones. Eventually we hadDating assessments from 6 archaeologiststo stop at Layer 10, one metre down, with no sign ofMedieval11th Century onwards 3the bottom. One metre square test pits are not meantPost Roman5th or 6th Century 1to be taken so deep for fear of the sides collapsingLate-Roman 2on the hapless excavator. We stoppedbut only after digging out a quarter of the bottom down to 1.2In defence of the experts consulted, although metres still with no sign of an end! they were all professional archaeologists, not all Apart from the finds recovered from the featurearchaeologists can be expected to be pottery experts it had been possible to expose a section of slopingand some pottery experts specialise in some areas side where softer soil was trowelled away from a moreand not in others.compact surface. On the basis of a comparison with the sherds Pit, Ditch or Hollow? found in the first pit, some of which had been It was a complete surprise after the first test pit.identified as circa 11th Century, we thought that Was the feature we had revealed part of a pit or partthis very different coarse ware was older than that. of a more extensive ditch? It was tempting to thinkTherefore the medieval dating seemed inappropriate. the former as it happened to be beside the site ofWe were coming to accept that it was a matter of the earth closet that existed during the early 1900s.seeking a consensus of opinion as we consulted more Perhaps a previous generation had placed an earlierand more experts and that we might never obtain a privy up the garden out of the way of where they lived.definite date.Alternatively it could be part of a ditch that ran along the existing boundary with next door. Perhaps it was part of an extensive hollow used for some practical agricultural or domestic purpose. With the summer season of 2003 drawing to a close it was obvious that more digging was necessary but it would have to be delayed until 2004 so we filled in the first pit and left the second one open waiting for the next seasons digging.1See Part 1 in Bulletin 82sherds as in potsherds, usually pronounced shards!148 BULLETIN 9'