Thursday, 23 April 2015

One, 10

Day one on site was like going into the Unknown. Having heard so much about it, I was finally there. What struck me most when arriving there, apart from the serene and quite frankly, beautiful surroundings, was the feeling of isolation and I began to imagine how lonely it must have been for its occupants, throughout its history. On entering the field, you could clearly distinguish the structure and layout of the huts, with the raised terrain clearly defined from all angles. It begs the question, was it the government's intention for this particular site to become a training camp for soldiers, for them to be detached from everything they know, in order to prepare them for the brutalities of war? Perhaps a little abstract, but on reflection the landscape illustrates such a significant feeling of immense calm, something which the soldiers probably didn't realize whilst training, but with feelings of patriotism and optimism, the men would've felt like they were going into the Unknown. 
View of the 'navvy' huts on entering the site (photo by author)
I was excavating Trench 10, an extension to the trench opened by my peers the day before with a little help from Pythagoras' Theory (oh, joy). We were located to the West of the camp, by what would've been the Army huts, and our trench was a strip of the hut, road and pathway which was dividing the huts, and this was clearly indicated by the earthworks. From the extension, which was the pathway, we fought the resilient grass to uncover a raised concrete platform, a gap into the entrance of the hut (top left of image below) suggesting a door may have been there and a baffling area of brick formation (bottom left of image below). This brick formation cuts off suddenly, suggesting some sort of drainage system or simply an addition to the hut. 

View of excavated pathway (photo by author)
Other finds were predominantly parts of glass bottles. These glass assemblages are common as previous years of excavations at Breary Banks found much the same, with medicines, food, sauces (such as tomato ketchup) and drinks. Rusty nails, metal, buttons, and something which looked like a hook off a fishing rod or a door latch was also discovered in trench 10, and after the struggle with the grass and roots, finding a small piece of glass was euphoric! From the trench, the soil had different variations and this was abundantly clear from the texture and colour, which helped to determine the layout of the hut. 
Second extension of the road, noticeably becoming darker
(photo by author) 

The outline of the trench facing North, showing the variations in soil,
notice the lighter area by the rubble is clay
(photo by author)

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