| 3 March 2008
Drill near London to find evidence of ancient occupation
Archaeologists from Durham University will be returning to a London borough site (England) where a 19th century historian once found flint tools and animal bones. This time, however, the latest sonic drilling equipment will be used to take samples from the earth, for the ongoing Ancient Human Occupation of Britain II project (AHOB).
Initial drillings were carried out at Holmscroft Open Space in September 2007 by the archaeologists, who are looking at human occupation of the country right from the first people who lived here about 700,000 years ago, up to the end of the last Ice Age, roughly 8,800 years ago. AHOBII, Ancient Britain in its European Context, entails the re-analysis of old artefacts held in museum collections as well as fieldwork to refine dates and provide more accurate reconstructions of past environments.
The Durham University team is interested in Holmscroft because of 19th century finds by amateur archaeologist and geologist FCJ Spurrell, who collected bones of extinct animals and flint tools from the Crayford and Erith area. Spurrell turned up his flint tools in old brickearth quarries to the north and south of the area now known as Holmscroft Open Space, but little is known about their specific context. Early Victorian archaeologists didn't use the thorough recording techniques of present day professionals.
Three boreholes drilled last year confirmed there are still useful deposits at the site such as mammal bones, molluscs and pollen, which can be dated and analysed. The team will return on March 6 and 7 2008 to make a more in-depth study, drilling down 12 to 15 metres. It will be the first time the sonic drilling equipment has been used in the UK to dig to such a depth. "Members of the public are welcome to ask archaeological team members about their work, but only when they are outside the fenced off area and away from machinery," said Dr Beccy Scott, who is leading the team. The results will be published by the London Borough of Bexley’s Local Studies Unit, and on the AHOBII project website.
Source: 24 Hour Museum (29 February 2008)
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