The most prevalent rock in the area is Limestone. It’s a soft and easily eroded stone. When water runs through it, the rock dissolves, giving the water a high mineral content. This leads to what is known as hard water and causes limescale build up on kettles and other appliances.img_2650

This means that while it’s easy to shape and carve, it doesn’t hold a shape or edge for long unless preserved or constantly sharpened. As a result, though we have other signs of stone age civilisations in the area, there’s little remains of their tools.

The same principle applies to fossils found in the area. While they are around, they are easily damaged and corroded. I have found several in the garden, a partial ammonite which has been eroded by exposure to the elements and the disruption of garden work, and two small scallop-like shells, their imprint forever preserved in a shard of limestone.

Quartz is considered a semi-precious gemstone. It is too common for it to be of much monetary value, but this doesn’t stop it being beautiful. It ranges from white to clear and is in abundance in this area. Chunks of it have been unearthed in the upper gardens, and seams of it can be seen in the walls of the buildings around us.

dsc_0008_8

Remnants of glass can be found littering the rubble. Some are little more than jagged shards which present a clear hazard, these have been removed in the interest of safety. Others pieces are almost intact, from entire bottles from L’Oreal to small vials that would have held medicine. It’s difficult to determine the age of these pieces, but going by the thickness of the base we can judge that they vary from relatively modern, with thin bases, to older items which have a thick base.

Alongside these are fragments of pottery and porcelain. The spout of a teapot, a shard of a coloured tile or a piece of a patterned plate. Again there are varying ages and states of repair to these finds. Some more modern items can be found, with several fragments or earthenware pottery. These red clay pots are much older and more rustic than the other finds.

 

Finding bones is always a little unnerving, but we can be positive that these are from animals. A shoulder blade the wrong shape to be human, a marrow bone too large to be. The first assumption would be that they died of natural causes, it would even be nice to think that they might be prehistoric. However, we can tell that neither of these is the case. The main break on the bones is too clean for it to be natural, or even made using a stone tool. Another factor that determines that they weren’t a stone age meal is the presence of ridges on the cuts. These suggest that a serrated blade or saw was used to sever the bone. My guess is that they’re no older than Victorian, though they are probably a lot younger.

A small rodent skull presents an enigma. With no extra bones, there is little evidence to show how it died. Research has shown that is a Common Rat, common enough in the area. The site has clearly been used as a rubbish dump for some time, creating the perfect habitat for small rodents. Plenty of cover and an easy food source. Despite this, the garden was at one point one of the most beautiful gardens in the area. This is what we aim to bring it back to.

IMG_2491.JPG

However, this habit does give us an interesting insight into people’s lives. Among the glass and bones, there’s also less collectable items like old shoes, or at least their soles. Old tins, drinks cans and fragments of plastic litter the site. There’s even the handle from an old cooking pot. From a social history point of view, it’s a mine of information and a wonderful window in how people lived.

 

Alys-Rose

Draw-international intern.