Friday, 21 March 2014

Archaeological Dig Week 3

Oxford Archaeology North are continuing to dig George Quayle's private dock and, at the time of writing, are at or near the bottom. We have learned an enormous amount but, predictably, we are faced with more questions than we currently have answers for!
The main findings so far:
  • The dock was used as a tip through the 19th century. There's a layer of 'night soil' (contents of chamber pots etc.) that has preserved a lot of items below it remarkably well. This is because there was very little oxygen filtering through.
  • The dock retains a metre or so of water even at low tide - we think this is because there's a 'lip' at the dock entrance. This too has contributed to the preservation of some objects.
  • We have excavated many more finds than we had anticipated, including a large number of rigging blocks and pulleys, glass and china. Caroline has also found parts discarded from Peggy during the boat's conversion to the form we see today. This shows, remarkably, that Peggy was worked upon in this very dock.
  • There are some very strange timbers, wrought iron artefacts and leather straps emerging. Plenty of evidence, in short, of George Quayle's ingenious imagination at work. At the moment we have no idea what we are looking at, but we have faith that the end of the dig will enlighten us.
  • The depth of the dock is greater than we thought and that has meant the dig has overrun. We now hope to complete the excavation by the end of March 2014.
The conditions in which the archaeologists are working are truly very nasty, as this photo, taken at low tide, shows. Aside from the wind and rain, the dock never fully empties.

East side of the dock at low tide

We are having trouble finding room for all the finds, many of which will have to be kept wet to stop them from falling apart.

Studded brass strapping - from a carriage?

One of several wet finds tanks

Our fragile wet finds tank


  1. could there possibly be precise plans of peggy in the forseable future that could enable the construction of a replica ?

  2. Flukux - there are indeed plans drawn by a naval architect, as well as a very accurate laser scan of the hull. We are actively pursuing the idea of building a replica of Peggy.