Sunday, May 16, 2010
Don’t get me wrong. He was a very nice young man indeed. The sort that you really wouldn’t mind if your daughter….. hmmm I suppose I should add son as well in this enlightened age…. came home and introduced him. Polite, articulate and not too shy to hold a conversation. Obviously well educated. The thing is though he had an enthusiasm.
She Of The Townhouse had identified a local archaeological walk of interest. Abso and I noted that it was traversing one of our favourite haunts and elected that we would not be averse to tagging along. So it was that we met the Augustus Finknottle of all things lithic.
After a climb of about one thousand feet from sea level to the plateau above, we hove up to, an at first sight unpromising pile of gravel' close by a rocky outcrop. Stone in hand our guide held forth for the best part of half an hour regaling the assembly with tales of stone age distributions, of fine axes, of seasonal migratory populations, and all in a manner that kept us spell bound. He also took care to point out the boundary layer from which charred bones had been extracted to reliably date what to me looked like a pile of fairly recent chippings back to pre bronze age Neolithic times.
According to the ratio of certain carbon isotopes the pile was from round about 5013BC.....a June afternoon at around three o'clock.... probably the bone from the Sunday roast...this backed up by knife marks showing it had been sliced rather poorly along the grain....something like that.
Excitedly onwards then, we next inspected further trenches full of suitably fascinating gravel, again dated with intimidating ossuary accuracy.
Putting off doubters who felt that the whole upland area may have been worked in medieval times our rockmeister led us on through a bewilderment of burnt mounds, cairns, derelict hut circles, settlements and various other evidences until not a man, woman, or indeed dog was prepared to cast uncertainty. At least not out loud. Not if we wanted to get off the mountainside before tea.
Finally we arrived at yet another hummocky prospect of little interest to the uninitiated. For some reason this one excited our man more than the others. This one it seems has yet to be excavated. Quivering like a rodent, animated at the prospect of a fine supper, he produced flints from nearby test trenches and speculated on the hope of bones being excavated at some near future date when funding would allow.
Now I don’t want to pretend that this wasn’t interesting. It was a real treat to see someone clarifying a subject about which many would carelessly remain ignorant. A subject about which he clearly had a great deal more to tell and would clearly love to do so.
That was when I caught sight of what Asbo was up to. Lacking some of the social skills that were keeping his human companions from expressing even the remotest ennui, he had looked around for alternative entertainment. I had noticed him snuffling up a morsel earlier from the previously unexcavated ground and had assumed that he had found the dogs end of a sausage roll, or perhaps a sandwich crust.
As he crunched his way through a particularly ancient bone fragment I calmly juxtaposed myself between him and the guardian of prehistoric knowledge……..
The bird seems to be making a nest in my bedroom and has nothing to do with the rest of this post.