The Not-So Dismal News

Aerial Uphill
Drone view of St. Nicholas Church Uphill .

Banksy mania is in town. Black balloons with ‘I am an imbecile’ flout down the High Street, an international crowd form
crocodile queues at the Tropicana, now converted into ‘Dismaland’; see Tina’s take on Dismaland on her blog:- http://westonmuseum.org/friday-21st-august-2015/ ).

Discove Uphill Church 2015But on a sunnier note there’s good news at St. Nicholas Church, Uphill. It’s ‘Discover Hidden Somerset’ week, and with the aid of a grant from the late Professor Mick Aston’s legacy fund, an excavation has been made within the church. Trenches have been dug by professional archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology led by Dr Neil Rushton with the help of local
volunteers. One of the trenches has been surprisingly rich in content and Phil Harding of Time Team fame came to give us a ‘Trench Story’.

Phil said there was initial disappointment at the Victorian spoil coming out but when digging deeper the original  11th century floor was uncovered, a yellowy creamy layer which was placed on top of the limestone bedrock. Layers of floor had accumulated over time with sequences of dirt, red sand and mortar until finally a thick sandy layer suggested the roof was open to the elements and sand from Weston beach was able to settle on the floor surface.

Phil Harding at Trench
Time Team’s Phil Harding indicating the blocked-up doorway to the trench
The Trench 2015 Uphill
Phil’s Trench with furnace pit, original floor and robber layer

An unusual imprint stone layer above the floor dated to the 19th century, with Welsh slate inclusions, clay pipe and flower pot pieces. Phil had pondered on this assortment and felt it could be where robbers had removed the font and stone steps; the original font is now in the modern church. A large pit with burning had been made, drilled down through the original floor and could have contained a furnace which was used for roof repairs or metal working; the red scorched earth with charcoal remnants suggested high temperature firing.  Finally Phill said he found fill-shapes by the original floor and conjected it could be the remains of a burial as it wasn’t unknown for burials inside a church. That was the final piece of the puzzle and an ovation was given to Phil for his brilliant Trench Story.

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