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A ‘Floorless’ start to week 2 of the Fingle Mill Dig

Steve wrote this update on Monday but as we’ve been so busy onsite this has been my first chance to actually post it. As you will be able to see from the pictures work has moved on apace since then and some of the ‘next steps’ he mentioned have now taken place…

As you might be able to tell from my terrible pun, much of today’s focus has been directed towards the ground.

After clearing back piles of rusted machinery, burned grain and fallen stones in the mill’s working area, we had come to a rough surface of crushed orange/red stone and crumbled grey/white mortar, perhaps 15-20 cm deep. This was crudely laid with no attention to aesthetics and the materials were now all mixed up; disrupted by tree roots and the collapse of the building, with some metal finds mixed in close to the surface. A slot cut through the floor indicated that, to the north, close to the cog pit, it seems to have been packed in with rough granite stones.

A different surface of silty (probably) riverine soil was found beneath it. This looks as though it was intentionally deposited, so the plan now is to dig the slot deeper to establish if this is an older floor.

Amelia digging the deeper slot

The extent of the floor surface to the south has yet to be determined, it might butt up against the beautiful cobbled floor separating the mill from the house to the south (see Ella Chambers’ blog: The Uses of Fingle Mill: Discoveries Adding Detail). In order to find out, we started removing the ‘bulk’ this afternoon, a walkway we leave between trenches for access. There are further finds poking out from the section (trench wall) so we still have plenty to find in there.

Hard at work removing the ‘bulk’

New and interesting finds have also come from the cog pit over the weekend. These include a large stone which fitted snugly back into place in a depression in the mortar on top of the cog pit’s southern wall. The stone had a socket chiselled in to it, to act as a footing for the machinery’s frame work. The charred remains of the wooden post it once held were also still evident. With some of these feet still in situ, and others (like this one) capable of being reinstated, we are starting to get a plan of how the framework sat in the mill; this has never been possible before.

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Work has continued in the leat as well over the last few days and we are starting to find possible evidence of alterations to the wheel pit and channels over time. This suggests that the mill has had different configurations over time, perhaps being converted from overshot wheels (where the water runs down from a trough above) to undershot wheels (where the water flows beneath the wheel).

‘Finds‘, you cry, ‘tell us more about the finds’! Well our finds team have been busy people. On a quick visit to the site today I saw a chisel, possibly for re-cutting the mill stones, a door hinge with notches cut along its large spike to help secure it in stone or wood, a mill cog, a glass bottle from Exeter and a whole host of other objects that together deserve a feature of their own.

Last but not least, Tom, our drone pilot for many Fingle Projects, visited the site today and captured a whole series of new images and footage. This takes some skill due to the tree cover and previously we had no shots of the mill and grounds from the air but thanks to Tom you will soon be able to share this bird’s eye view.

Finally, don’t forget our Open Day on the 28th July. It’s a really good chance to come along and see the mill and find out about more about the project.

Text by Steve Guy-Gibbens, pictures by Paul Moody and Eleanor Lewis

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