Copyright (c) The Crickley Archaeological Hill Trust 1969-2021. The right to use, copy, distribute or otherwise disseminate this material is reserved to those specifically authorised by The Trust.

What’s in the archive

Features are the key items on an archaeological site. They are the postholes, floors, walls and ditches left by the previous occupants, along with some natural formations felt worthy of investigation in case they turn into something interesting. As soon as a feature is uncovered, it is numbered and all the information about it is recorded on a feature sheet. This is a key part of the archive, and you can see pretty much all of the 9200 or so feature sheets through the website. They are accessed via the feature schedule for each cutting (see How to use the archive for details). Here’s an example, from the Dark Age cutting in 1983, showing the key bits of information.

The season (year)

Precise location within the cutting (in metres from SW corner)

The cutting where it’s located (sometimes more than one if it’s a big feature)

Date uncovered

Date excavation completed

The unique feature number. In the online archive, this is bulked up to five digits, so this one would be F05804.

Description of what was found, written by the supervisor on site. This is often added to as more is uncovered.

Dimensions of the feature

Photographs - this was actually hardly ever filled in

Relationships to other features - usually added during excavation, this shows what was above, alongside and below the feature. Important for dating. A number in a circle means the whole site layer (2 in this case).

If the feature appears on any large plans or sections, they are sometimes noted here

If samples were collected, they are often noted here.

Who dug it

Who recorded it (me in this case)

A brief note of finds recovered from the feature - this is never a complete list

Comments, interpretation, running commentary on the excavation of complex features, and notes about phasing i.e. dating are added here, sometimes at great length over several pages.

Other features which might not appear in the formal relationships sections above are sometimes noted here, e.g. other posts from a single roundhouse.

There were various designs of feature sheet used on the site, but all of them included essentially the same information fields. However before the 1976 season, features were recorded in the supervisor notes, along with any drawings of them. In this case, single sheet feature sheets were created after the event with at times extremely limited information included. Best to refer to the supervisor notes for these early seasons.

Often, promising features turned into nothing, or just natural humps and bumps. This would often cause the prominent note ‘NAF’ (not a feature) to be added to the description. Frustrated supervisors might instead put a diagonal line across the whole sheet, recording the same thing. In those instances where something interesting was found, drawings, plans and sections might be added to the back of the feature sheet. Here are some nice examples, of a plan (left), cross section (middle), and profile (right). A profile shows the emptied feature, whereas a section is drawn when only one half has been dug.