Two test pits opened at Coven failed to reveal the evidence of prehistoric iron-making we had hoped for but a couple of interesting features were uncovered. As expected, below the plough-pan in each pit, the ground was a mixture of light sandy clay and gravel
In pit number 1 a strong linear feature found at around 35cm depth proved to be a channel cut for a tile drain which may be an old feeder to a herringbone drainage system. As can be seen, the drain is made up from tapered tubes of about 4 inches diameter which are a simple push-fit. Putting a date on these tiles is tricky - they could have been laid at any time between the late 1700s and the mid 20th century. This document details the known types.
Our second pit also revealed a dark band at around 40cm although this seemed to 'change course' suggesting it was something other than a drain. A number of stones seemed to be packed together near this change in direction. It's possible that the feature is the remnant of some structure but we had no more time to investigate. Tantalisingly, a single piece of iron tap-slag was found just below the interface between the plough-soil and the natural but it could have been forced down by the plough.
A dark band running right to left (under the trowel handle) across pit #2
We hope to dig more test pits in the field before the next crop is sown and a full report into our investigations will be produced and available on our reports page in due course.