I arrived to dig at Caldicot Castle, Monmouthshire, in May 1991. I'd reeled away from a relationship that had ended badly and an abandoned career to return to my first love, archaeology fieldwork. I was broken-hearted and broke, and wanted to heal my spirits. I had to borrow cash from a good friend to be able to eat. Working amongst the mud, peat, soggy wood and friendly people at this Bronze Age site was just what I needed and by the time the dig finished five months later I had not only restored my good humour but had also met Lenore, who I soon decided was the love of my life!
Each workday I cycled to and from the site. My base was Chepstow Youth Hostel, where I was kindly allowed to stay beyond the usual four days in a back room (with a cracked ceiling that eventually collapsed) to Caldicot, becoming super fit and skinny, a state that I've never since regained! Sadly the hostel closed later in 1991, but the gate beside which we took our first photographs, though replaced, is still recognisable...
Because the site was exploring waterlogged deposits, most of it was either under cover or beneath plastic sheeting. As a result it looked pretty untidy, a mixture of mud, scaffolding and flapping plastic. But underneath were fascinating sediments filled with wood and bone. Much of the wood was structural, and the previous year the project had uncovered a section of a wood plank boat. No such luck while I was there, but we did find lots of dog bones. They may have practiced some form of dog worship or sacrifice perhaps?
Report: Nayling N., and Caseldine A. 1997. Excavations at Caldicot, Gwent: Bronze Age Palaeochannels in the Lower Nedern Valley. CBA Research Report 108