Today was a fairly epic day at Blelham Tarn. We got the initial geophysics results back, which were spectacular, and on the back of that we were able to select an area for excavation and open a trench. The magnetometry survey had on the previous day extended over the area of the bloomery and was undertaken at a much higher resolution than had previously been undertaken and makes very exciting viewing.
The magnetometry survey in progress
The initial magnetometry results from Blelham Tarn
The long black linear feature on the right is the tail race, and at the top of that is a square white feature, which must correspond with a wheel pit. To the left of that are two circular, very highly magnetic, features, which we are interpreting as the furnaces. To the left of the tail race is a large rectangular structure, which we are tentatively suggesting was a charcoal store. All in all pretty good results for the first day on site. At this stage I can also publish on the blog the results from the High Stott Park which made interesting viewing, particularly given that there were very few earthworks visible on the site.
The magnetometry results from High Stott Park
Most of the area shows very little in the way of significant anomalies, but at the top left are two very magnetic sub-circular features which we are interpreting as furnaces. This is reassuring as it demonstrates that below ground there is seemingly good survival of the bloomery remains. So onto the excavation. After considerable discussion it was considered that one of the most important features to look at was the wheel pit, as it is the possibility that we have an early water powered bloomery on the site that makes the site so significant. If we can discover more about the water power system and establish a date for the abandonment of the pit then that would be a fantastic achievement. So we elected to put a trench across the suggested wheel pit geophysics anomaly.
Breaking the turf – the excavation starts
The deturfed trench – early days but potentially great things to come
In addition we were able to go great guns with the topographic survey. We managed to record most of the later dam above the site and also record what we believe to be the head race for the bloomery. All in all a fantastic days work and its hats off to everyone one that participated today, and that was despite some pretty lousy weather. Today was the last day that Ian Brooks was with us to undertake the magnetometry survey. His results have been absolutely fantastic and we are enormously grateful for everything that he has done. Now we can now look forward to some further great stories from next monday. So watch this space. Jamie Quartermaine