Graveyard Dig Day 34

A bright, sunny, windy and freezing day that only Aisling was dressed for, so we put her in charge.

Douglas was given the task of excavating the flowerpot interior, which he did with considerable care. He found fragments of what may have been thick, rusted wire or pins. We speculated that they may once have supported the flowers we found on Thursday.

Rusty wire? Found in the flower pot
Rusty wire? Found in the flowerpot
The rose what we found on Thursday
The rose what we found on Thursday

Douglas also retrieved a fragment of a coloured glassy material, a pit of pot and broken glass.

Pretty glass from the flower pot
Pretty glass from the flowerpot
The flower pot is empty
The flower pot is empty

Meanwhile Aisling worked with Rob and Charlotte in the “Trench of Bigness”. More bone, a bit of nail and a rather interesting button were amongst the finds they made.

Rob thinks about making a grab for the ear muffs
Rob thinks about making a grab for the ear muffs
Laser beams fired from the Abbey just missing Charlotte
Laser beams fired from the Abbey just miss Charlotte

Once Douglas was rested from his flowerpot ordeal, he and Mark plugged away in the “Trench of the Rose”. Douglas excavated a rather nice clay tobacco pipe fragment, complete with a letter “T”, a form we haven’t come across before.

Douglas, master of the toothpick, cleans the pipe fragment
Douglas, master of the toothpick, cleans the pipe fragment

All-in-all a very satisfying two hours.

What we found in the graveyard

This is the first of a couple of posts that will focus on the small finds we have made in the graveyard over the last couple of weeks.

The human element

First, I should say that we have come across a few fragments of human bone. These are always treated with respect and returned to the ground immediately. Probably the most moving find was the rib of a small child that had clearly suffered from rickets, and therefore malnutrition during its short life. Apparently such stray finds, probably from the 19th or early 20th centuries are not uncommon.

Mostly rubbish

Most finds come from the layer of early 20th century rubbish that was spread over the parts of the graveyard in 1930 to level the ground and prevent flooding. A¬†fair number of well rusted iron and other¬†metallic objects have turned up.Handmade nails We are starting to gather quite a collection of substantial nails such as these. During the 19th century it became common for nails to be cut from sheets of iron (hence “cut nails”). However, the nail heads were often made to look exactly the same as earlier, hand wrought nails. By the early 20th century many nails were made from wire, as they are today and so look much like modern nails. These are clearly not wire nails, so they were most likely used in older buildings, perhaps demolished in the early 20th century.

graves-6Easier to date is the broken bowl of a tobacco pipe found above the last and most southerly gravestone found. On one side we have the remains of an inscription:


Clay Pipe DetailThe coronation was that of Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, and sure enough there is a rather worn and unflattering portrait of him on the other side of the bowl.

We have also found a few fragments of what is probably the stems of old clay pipes. Pipes were prone to breaking and by the turn of the century were losing out in popularity to cigarettes.

Another finds focused post will follow later in the week (if I find the time).