Irish Industrial Landscapes:

Recording of Contexts

Every feature/context within the site with/without association to heating should be recorded in a spreadsheet similar to the one shown below. It is important to characterise each context on the basis of its dimensions, morphology (linear, oval, circular etc.), the steepness of its sides, the shape of the base, the colour and texture of its soils, the type and amount of its coarse inclusions. 

Preliminary on-site interpretation regarding each feature should be included in a separate column, as shown in the table below. The purpose of the exercise is not to provide definitive conclusions but rather to guide the course of the investigation. It is widely acknowledged that when dealing with single context recording, it is often the case that "one can't see the wood for the trees." Keeping focused on the features with the purpose of interpreting their role and function should be the driving force of the investigation. 

Table of contexts for metal-working features at Killickaweeny (Walsh and Photos-Jones, in preparation).

Context

Fill of

Filled by

Depth (m)

Length (m)

Width (m)

Description

Coarse inclusions

Preliminary on-site interpretation

Interpretation based on screening/ analysis

SASAA sample no.

419

420

-

0.08

0.44

 

Dark brown/grey silty clay with charcoal flecks and burnt clay

frequent slag, large stones and occasional sub-rounded pebbles

Fill of metallurgical pit

Bowl furnace fill

 23.143

420

-

419, 422

0.13

0.44

0.44

Sub-circular in plan, sides steeply sloped, base mostly flat

 

Metallurgical pit

Bowl furnace

  23.96

422

420

-

 

 

 

Mid brown orange silty clay, charcoal flecks

occasional pebbles

Burning

In situ burning

23.202

423

424

-

0.12

0.75

0.50

Dark brown grey silty clay frequent charcoal

occasional slag, occasional small pebbles, large stones and decayed stones

Fill of metallurgical pit

Bowl furnace fill

23.207/SL

424

-

423

0.12

0.75

0.50

Sub-oval in plan, sides slope gradually, base nearly flat- small ledge at E (Plate 152)

 

Metallurgical pit

Bowl furnace

 23.11

436

437

-

0.07

 

0.32

Charcoal and silt, under this context the soil is heat-affected

occasional slag

Burning

Bowl furnace fill

23.5, 23.171/SL, 23.05 ms(1/1)

Subsequent to recording, the next stage is to carry out a number of tests & analyses preferably on the features themselves and while the excavation is ongoing,  but also on the samples taken from the field during the post-excavation stage. These tests & analyses will shed light onto the nature and role of any individual feature/context. The final interpretation will rest on the combined result of  field-based observations and laboratory analysis, and will be presented in a separate column, next to the preliminary interpretation as well as in a separate column listing the samples on which the decision was based.