Metal clasp recovered in 2005

Metal clasp recovered in 2005

The 2005 field season lasted six weeks from from 16 May to 30 June.  It involved 25 people of whom 19 were divers. The operational base was the Maritime Centre at Braye Harbour from where several inflatable boats carried divers to and from the site.  As usual the dives were limited to approximately 50 minutes, once or twice a day between tides.  For the third season in a row there appeared to have been little movement of the sandbank during the off-season.

For the first time a systematic effort was made (using a water dredge) to trench the sandbank that covers the site.  The purpose of this was to gather data on the extent, nature, disposition and state of preservation of the remains which would allow the trustees to prepare informed archaeological and financial strategies for the future.

It was decided to run a trench along the line between Datum N and Cannon 1, beginning at N.  Two small, 2 x 2 m. grids were used.  Because of in-filling between tides, progress was slow.  By the end of the season, an area 17.5 m long and between 2.0 and 2.75 m wide had been excavated down to rock or sterile sand.  The area was found to be moderately rich in wreck debris (mostly pottery fragments and small concretions), but there were no distribution patterns that enabled us to make any reliable judgements regarding the location and character of the main wreck deposit.  All finds were plotted on to the site plan.  A small number of concretions were left in the depot near the bottom of the shot-line for detailed scrutiny and recording in 20006.

In addition to trial-trenching, a detailed survey of the cannon was conducted. Recent research has demonstrated that the Alderney guns are of outstanding archaeological and historical importance (Guns and shot).  The survey was necessary in order to formulate a program for their care, study and preservation.  At present five are showing above the surface of the sand.  Because of insufficient time the survey will have to be completed in 2006.

A bellarmine jar fragment

A bellarmine jar fragment

By the end of the season 29 items had been recovered, the majority were small concretions, fragments of pottery and apostles.  A sword hilt and part of what is believed to be a clasp were also recovered.  The clasp, which is believed to be from a book, featured incised decoration.  Another significant find was an odd-shaped concretion (no. 1305) which radiography revealed to contain a powder flask, an apostle and several fragments of pottery.  A list of the recovered artefacts for 2005 is given below.

While work proceeded on the site, a small group based at the Museum began an audit of the artefacts in preparation for a new data-base that will be published on the excavation website.  It is an objective of the Alderney Maritime Trust to make the entire collection available to the public on the world wide web.

In September, after the season was over, 269 artefacts were returned from conservation at the York Archaeological Trust.  They were either put into humidity-controlled dry-storage at the Museum or into wet-storage in the Museum annex.  Some of the items returned (e.g. small nodules of corrosion products, featureless wood splinters, etc) were judged to be of no information, museological or teaching value.  These were examined in detail by the project conservator and excavation director and most were labled ‘NFA’ (No Further Action).  These will be deposited in a specially prepared underwater storage area.  A small number of items of doubtful information value will be examined and assessed by conservation students from Cardiff University who will be joining the project in 2006.

Artefacts recovered during the 2005 field season

Bladed weapons
1330        Concreted sword hilt.  39 X 120 mm

Powder containers
1305        Powder flask (in concretion with one apostle [1328] and three sherds).
1268        Apostle. Base and top of cap missing.  Ht. 100
1269        Cap from apostle, missing flat-top disc.  Ht. 30 mm
1306        Apostle with cap and all lugs.  Ht. 107 mm
1322        Apostle without cap.  Body lugs and base intact. Ht. 99.5 mm
1328        Apostle (in concretion with powder flask 1305).  Bottom damaged.

Grenade fragments
1265        Possible grenade fragment. 22 X 32 mm
1266        Possible grenade fragment. 26 X 38 mm
1267        Grenade fragment. 29 X 30 mm
1271        Grenade fragment. 34 X 43 mm
1274        Grenade fragment.  19 X 29 mm
1307        Possible grenade fragment.  13 X 21 X 31
1308        Possible grenade fragment. 30 X 31 mm
1309        Possible grenade fragment.  31 X 54 mm

1324        Eyes, nose, mouth and part of beard from neck-mask of a bellarmine jar.  31 X 535 mm
1325        Bellarmine body fragment.  35 X 36 mm

1273        Alborello body fagment.  Painted decoration. 14 X 35 mm
1323        Alborello rim and bodyfragment.  Painted decoration.  38 X 557 mm

Coarseware fragments
1275        Body fragment.  60 X 65 mm
1279        Body fragment.  29 X 30 mm
1326        Rim fragment.  49 X 59 mm
1329        Body fragment.  282 X 432 mm

1270        Clasp.  Possibly from book. Insised decoration. 13 X 14.

1278        One torn piece of lead sheeting with three nail holes.  360 X 750 mm

Concretions of uncertain identity
1272        Concretion.  19 X 38 mm
1304        Concretion.  5 X 22 X 57 mm

1327        Bone fragment. 70 X 190 mm

Possible ballast stones
1302        Possible ballast stone.  28 X 94 X 130 mm
1303        Possible ballast stone.  85 X 185 X 200 mm

The following items were judged to be of minor interest.  They were labled and left in the depot on the seabed for further evaluation in 2006.

Concretion:  1311, 1312, 1313, 1314, 1315, 1316, 1317, 1318, 1319, 1320.
Stone:  1310
Uncertain:  1321

In alphabetical order:  Bryan Baird; Mensun Bound; Nigel Harrison; Tim Harrison; John Hodges; Francois Jean; Boyd Kelly; Robin King; Lisa Lewis; Phil Murray; James Niel; Ian Oakshett; Nick Oakshett; Lee Oslin; Amanda Rawlins; Phil Reece; Mary Restell; Roy Restell; John Russel; Fred Shaw; Nigel Shaw; Anne Smith, Bryan Smith; Martin Smith; Mark Trowell; Steve Wright.

In alphabetical order: Peter Arnold,  John Hodges, Roland Gauvain, Louis and Carolyne Jean, Helen Pringle, Royston and Pat Raymond and  Robin Whicker.  The Alderney Maritime Trust also wishes to express its gratitude to the Council of the Alderney Society for their constant support.  Also the project is indebted to General Services Committee, Steve Shaw and the staff of the Harbour Master’s Office, the Senior Administrator and staff of the Alderney Museum and the Alderney Dive Club.