Bective excavations Blog

Susan Lyons’ Archaeobotanical Diary
July 26, 2011, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Soil sample processing is on-going at Bective Abbey and everyone is having a go at the on-site sieving. We are sieving the samples using the effective technique of floatation. This is where the sample is added to a bucket of water, agitated by hand to break up the soil to release any charred material, such as charcoal, cereal grain and other botanical surprises. This charred material is light in density and will float to the top, allowing us to pour it through a bank of sieves. Once dry, the material is identified and analysed. Lorraine Foley shows us how it’s done.

Charcoal identification is also being carried out from some of the samples. So far ash (Fraxinus excelsior) and oak (Quercus sp.) have been identified from the kiln samples.  Ash and oak are both species which are suitable for building, perhaps they were used in constructing the kiln itself. Whether fresh or dry, ash is considered very good firewood and its charcoal is highly regarded. Similarly, oak produces good long lasting fuel and is commonly found in features associated with industrial activities, such as kilning and metalworking.

Lorraine Foley at work in the environmental lab.

Cross section of ash.

Cross section of oak.


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