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Reflections on the Barnham 2023 Field Season

Another season of fieldwork is completed at East Farm, Barnham

Earlier this summer PAB researchers returned to Barnham for a three-week season of fieldwork. The usual blend of ‘old hands’ and those excavating at Barnham for the first time, including students from Cambridge, Liverpool and Southampton universities, quickly settled into the routine of the excavation, established the areas to be excavated, and set about the various tasks with care and energy. Following a successful field season in 2022, this year’s work focused on an area adjacent to Area I and the intriguing evidence for burning that was revealed there last year, which has added to the abundant quantity of heated material previously found in this part of the site.

Team members working in Area I during the 2023 excavations at Barnham, Suffolk

The main objective of the fieldwork this year was to establish the nature and lateral extent of the indications of burning. To achieve this, the test trench started last year was excavated in detail and the original footprint of Area I was extended to link the old and new parts of Area I. Together these two excavated areas provide further evidence for fire at Barnham. Samples taken last year for magnetics, FTIR and micromorphology have been supplemented with new samples for processing and analysis. Lithic artefacts were also recovered, which were not as numerous as previous years so each one generated renewed excitement and interest!

A cluster of burnt flint (centre left) being excavated in Area I during 2023 fieldwork at Barnham

Elsewhere on the site a small trench in Area III was opened to enlarge the sample from units which have yielded abundant bone material. Extension of the western edge of Area III and re-opening of Pit 4, an old section from the 1990s fieldwork, has provided another opportunity to look at the relationship between the thicker succession in the central part of the basin and the thinner more marginal sediments in greater detail.

During the excavation a number of scientists visited the site including Sally Hoare (Liverpool University), Mareike Stahlschmidt (University of Vienna) and Richard Preece (Cambridge). We also welcomed members of the Essex Rock and Mineral Club for a site visit, and an enthusiastic group from Barnham Primary School, perhaps a future Palaeolithic archaeologist was among them?

For more information about the Barnham Excavations see the project webpages.