The nature reserve organization had allowed our archeological society to do a field survey in a small heath section on the edge of a wood where sods had been cut. A simple check, mainly a training exercise for newcomers, because on this location nothing of interest was expected.
It proved very differently.
Sod or turf cutting is applied where the soil has become too rich in nutriments for the heather plants. That's mainly caused by nitrogen precipitation from traffic and industry. With sodding the topsoil is scraped off bringing an older layer to the surface.
This section was labeled "probably uninteresting" because of age-long sand digging. Sand that was largely used for landfill in the lower parts of Holland. Most of the history of our region can be found under the streets and houses of Amsterdam!
Our small group started field walking in a line that would form grids. Simply moving slowly while closely observing the ground.
Even before we really started somebody almost stumbled over a bayonet, and ammunition was found, all 20th century.
Nothing special, as these plains and woods have been used as military training grounds for a long time. And of course there also had been defense lines and trenches like everywhere in these parts.
I had taken the first line along the undisturbed soil on the right side of the picture above.
After only a few meters I noticed several small fragments. Pottery or stone? These higher grounds being formed by Ice Age glaciers the soil contains plenty of gravel and pebbles. Sometimes hard to see the difference. But it does make a distinct sound when you tap it against your teeth.
The sound of pottery all right. Next, what age ?
I marked the location and, as I trailed behind a bit, I walked up to check with the coordinator. When I showed him I could sense his immediate excitement. Prehistoric artifacts for sure, he said. And when we looked further there were many more on a small surface.
First assessment: bronze age fragments of a cremation pot. Not unlikely as there are many 3 to 4000 years old burial mounts on nearby heathland. Only, not right here as far as we know.
Then, as others found many more artefacts of different periods, the excitement of the coordinator changed into worry. Too much stuff here!
Because of these unexpected finds the survey was over in less than half an hour - we had to stop. The nature reserve organization had to be informed first, so that they could call in professional archeologists. In the meantime we'd better not disturb things.
More pottery findings of that day.
Left: prehistoric with nail imprint decoration, possibly iron age and c.2500 years old. Right: pot rim fragment, probably 8th - 9th century AD.