Mark R, TomTom, Luke
My first trip back to Rowter since my last encounter with the ICT, and boots still coated in PSM mud I met up with my badgery comrades in the field.
We quickly discovered that my hours of stitching-up the holes in my meander were a complete waste of time; much to Mark's amusement I had managed to stitch a fold into the torso, making it about 2 inches smaller – so it ripped open straight away. Oh well.
45 minutes later we were in Decisions Decisions, and I was greeted with a view of Mark and TomTom's backsides as they were already hard at work in a little alcove in the southern wall which was to be the focus of our visit.
I de-kitted and did a bit of fetching and carrying for the diggers, and then explored all the plumbing that had been installed down there. The pumping as it currently is set up would be really unpleasant to do for any prolonged period of time. It's in an awkwardly small slope heading down to Rowter Hole Sump, the roof of which is drippy, and the pump has a habit of squirting you in the face. These could all be remedied fairly easily, but until we divert the little stream which is currently trickling into it, this is all relatively academic.
Back to the dig face and the diggers had settled on a direction, and we had a little debate as to whether we were simply digging into the back of an alcove, or if this is a potential passageway.
There's a great deal of very compact clay-like mud, which is an absolute arse ache to dig through, so the progress wasn't overly speedy. Mark pointed out that it was quite depressing how happy I was when I came across a patch of sand or even (gasp) a rock!
We took turns at this horrible digging for about 2 hours. The roof was sinking down infront of us – but if that means there is a passage that's lowering, or we're inches away from the back wall of an alcove, we still don't know.
The only other highlight was TomTom's discovery of two little 'artefacts'. Two 5p sized circular thingies with a hole in the middle, digging stopped as we studied them – if they were buttons then this would be the first sign of t'owd man this side of Foster's Faith, but after a little while I was pretty certain they were stone, rather than anything else. I tried to wash one off in the stream, but was perhaps a little too vigorous with my scrubbing, as I managed to completely disintegrate one of them. The other was a little thicker and stood up a little better, and I could make out a few striations (good word) across it. Based on my extensive knowledge of palaeontology I decided they (or it) were almost certainly bits of a fossil, but left them in Mark's safe keeping for a later review. He subsequently lost it, and along with it my chances of having a new species of ammonite named for me (Squigglythingus nugentii).
We exited with a view to pubbing, and it started out pretty well, until I tried to get through Foster's Faith with my SRT kit on. (Note to self; that is not possible). I eventually escaped Rowter once again and met the girls up in the pub. We drank, made plans for future diggery, said our fairwells, and returned to our different corners of the North.
Not a bad night's dig, but the jury is still out on the passage/alcove. (Artefact alcove?)