What is a Post Hole?
A post hole is a feature that has been cut into the ground to hold a wooden post. In the past these posts would have been used for the wall of a building or a fence. Post holes are common in archaeology especially at prehistoric sites where the buildings are made of timber.
The hole could have been cut into earth or into rock, and sometimes the posts had small stones of sticks packed in around them to hold them secure and upright. Post holes are from posts that have been deliberately placed into the ground and the archaeological remains are different from wooden stakes that have been driven into the earth.
Over time posts may have been removed, or have rotted in situ (in their original position) and this leaves a discolouration which can be found archaeologically. When the wood decays, if it has been left, it produces a dark coloured stain.
As you can see from the above diagram, there are several descriptive words used for describing post holes and their physical remains. You will also notice that post holes are deeper than they are wider.
Post hole – the hole that has been cut to hold the post in position. This is seen as a discolouration cut through the stratigraphy.
Dug soil – This is the soil that was removed from the dug hole. It is kept to the side and used for packing around the post once it is in place.
Post – This is the wooden item placed into the post hole. It could have been rounded or square in shape.
Hole fill or packing – Sometimes small stones and sticks were used to help hold the post in an upright position. These were packed around the post once it was in place. These can be seen archaeologically by the presence of stones together in an area when a section has been cut across the post hole.
Post pipe – This is the stain, or impression, of the post that was once there but has rotted away.
Post Void – Where the post has been removed from the post hole, but the impression still remains.
So, as you can see, there is more to post holes than just a hole in the ground!!
Archaeology Wow!! – The Staffordshire Hoard
The Staffordshire Hoard is a hoard, or collection, of Anglo-Saxon worked gold and silver pieces that were found in a Staffordshire field in 2009 by Terry Herbert. It is the largest Anglo-Saxon hoard ever found and contains over 3,500 items. The hoard had been scattered across the field due to ploughing by the farmer who owned that land.
The finds date from the 7th – 8th century and were most probably associated with the Kingdom of Mercia.
The hoard includes weaponry decorations such as gold sword hilts and sword pommels, as well as gold crosses, gold strip with quotations from the Old Testament inscribed upon them, and numerous smaller items. Eighty one pieces of the hoard have been declared as Treasure.
When the hoard was first discovered in 2009 archaeologists were called in and they excavated an area 9 x 13 m. In 2010 more of the field was excavated but nothing more was found. In 2012 archaeologists returned and excavated the same location where the original hoard was found, and they uncovered a further 91 pieces to add to the collection. The collection is now on display at the Birmingham Museum and estimated to be worth around £3.285 million.
Enjoy this video about finding the hoard – it is 46 minutes long but a good recollection of this amazing discovery!!
Archaeological Site Guide – Blagaj Fort, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Blagaj Fort, also known as Stepan Grad, is a fortress town located in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Europe. Parts of the remaining fort were built around 948 AD, however archaeological investigations at the site have uncovered evidence that the site had been inhabited since prehistoric times, in the form of a hill fort, and then during the Roman period when it was used as an observation post.
The site covers 2 hectares (900 x 900 x 500 m) and is protected to the north, south and west by vertical cliffs. The site is shaped like an irregular polygon with the remaining walls measuring 10-12 m high, and between 1.5 and 2 m thick.
The known history of the site is as follows,
535-600 – The walls were repaired and increased in height,
948-952 – The site is mentioned in the Treatise of Peoples, written by Constantine Porphyrogenitus, Emperor of Byzantine.
14th – 15th centuries – The walls were reinforced and another wall was added outside the main walls.
1699 – The fort was repaired by the Ottomans.
1827 – The fort was repaired by the Ottomans.
1835 – The fort was garrisoned until this date.
18th/19th century – The walls were badly damaged by gunpowder.
1965 – One third of the site was archaeologically investigated and finds included lots of medieval pottery, iron items, glass, charred grain and lead.
The site is now a National Monument.
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