Graveyard Dig – Day 28

Hard at work

‘Twas the week before Christmas when all through the graveyard the sound of YAC members excavating, planning and sieving could be heard quite distinctly. Our seasonal excavators were Erin, Kathryn, Katie, Lee and Michal with a special guest appearance by Erin’s brother Keiron.

Hard at work
Hard at work
Some sieving of spoil
Some sieving of spoil

We got on really well today, finally exposing the table stone, complete and with a beautifully clear inscription to one Andrew Bridges. Michal also discovered that the base of the stone, which has been visible for some weeks now, is also inscribed “2 Rooms”, which suggests that Mr Bridges was not planning on resting alone in the graveyard.

Mr Bridges' gravestone revealed
Mr Bridges’ gravestone revealed
Andrew Bridges gravestone. He died in 1833 at the age of 76
Andrew Bridges gravestone. He died in 1833 at the age of 76

The record of Andrew’s burial tells us that he was a mason who lived on Woodhead Street (now the north end of Chalmer’s Street). He died in 1833 of dropsy.

Dougie, working very carefully, found the first metal container of the dig over in the north-east corner of the site. It is flattened somewhat and has a bit of a hole in the bottom, but is otherwise complete. It seems to have lugs on either side, but as it has rusted, it has accreted soil and stone, so its form is not clear.

A curious can found in the rubble of the south-east trench
A curious can found in the rubble of the south-east trench
Trench section on the north side of the Bridge trench
Trench section on the north side of the Bridge trench

The south edge of the Bridge trench is proving to be interesting. Firstly Mr Bridge’s gravestone continues north underneath the neighbouring low marker, and secondly, the rubble layer appears to continue partially beneath the low marker, with a clear edge between rubble and graveyard soil. This suggests we have yet another low marker that was moved in some way in 1927. We will clean and record the section to make the relationship between the stones and rubble layer as clear as we can.

As you can see if the final photograph, we are excavating another gravestone to the south of Mr Bridge. This one is made of sandstone, so we are proceeding carefully and with little expectation of a surviving inscription; the surface being very pitted and crumbly. So, still plenty to do in the New Year!

Mr Bridge and the neighbours
Mr Bridge and the neighbours

Graveyard Dig – Day 27

Almost everyone hard at work, except me

We had a really good turn out on Saturday: Alexander, Erin, Kathryn, Katie, Michael, Michal, Olivia and Sienna all put in a good two hours of work. The weather was mild and dry, the mud had dried a little and there was enough of a breeze to keep us midge free. Who could ask for more on a Saturday in December?

Almost everyone hard at work, except me
Almost everyone hard at work, except me

Our main effort today was extending the Trench of Four Gravestones westward in order to uncover the rest of two of the stones. We also opened up the rest of the extreme south west corner trench in the hope of finding something other than yet more rubble. No such luck as yet.

A bone is found
A bone is found
Excavating and planning
Excavating and planning
Whilst our intrepid YAC member plans away, a leader engages with the public
Whilst our intrepid YAC member plans away, a leader engages with the public
Breaking ground in the south east corner of the site
Breaking ground (well, rubble) in the south east corner of the site
Speed trowelling
Speed trowelling
Slightly worried planning activity
Slightly worried planning activity
Contemplative excavation
Contemplative excavation

Graveyard Dig – Day 26

The team working hard

Well, the ground wasn’t frozen, it didn’t rain, but the midges were back and we were all itching like anything in the trenches. Being bitten today were Alexander, Erin, Michal and Ryan.
We were able to extend the trench of four gravestones to the east and south today and as you can see from the photos, we made excellent progress. Dougie, Erin and Michal worked fearlessly on the site plan.

Look, it isn't raining and the ground isn't frozen!
Look, it isn’t raining and the ground isn’t frozen!
Exposing the gravestone fragments
Exposing the gravestone fragments
Feeding the midges
Feeding the midges
The team working hard
The team working hard

The photograph below shows how the rubble layer just below the surface seems to deepen to the north (red end of ranging rod). We will draw a section of the trench before extending west to expose the rest of the two stones still disappearing into the mud.

Facing west the rubble layer is very clear
Facing west the rubble layer is very clear
Two Fragments and a Table Stone
Facing East: Two Fragments and a Table Stone

The east end of the table stone lies beneath the ranging rod. As yet we haven’t found any inscription, so perhaps it is a blank. It is pretty clear from the photograph above that the rubble layer continues underneath the low marker at the trench edge, which suggests that the stone was perhaps raised and put back during the landscaping work carried out in 1927.

Once we have planned the stone fragments we will lift the larger stone to fully expose the skull and crossed bones beneath and to see if any inscription survives on either stone.