While in the garden one day, my mum spotted an interesting stone poking out from beneath the grass. Her curiosity piqued, she found a trowel and began digging around it. It did not take long to discover that the stone was in fact the corner of a brick wall. Soon my dad came to join her and together they expanded the trench to reveal that two walls led off from the corner at a peculiar angle to the house.
By this point multiple ideas were going around as to what it might be. They ranged from the sensible (a well or old drain) to the not so sensible (part of a castle that no-one knew had existed). Each of us had our own idea of what we wanted it to be, and what we thought it actually was. The only way to find out for sure was to keep digging.
After lunch I went down to help them with the digging. My mum worked on the wall, to see how far along it went. My dad and I focused on the middle. We wanted to see how deep it went down and what treasures it held. Before long the hole started to reveal its secrets. First ash and charcoal came up, followed by bits of brick and the occasional find, even a bit of bone. We think the bone was from an animal, even if we didn’t find any other pieces to go with it.
Once we broke past this level, things started to get a bit more interesting. The smaller finds gave way to larger ones, including whole pieces of brick, nails, the odd bit of metal and a lock. The lock was the first major find of the day (after the original wall of course), and I was lucky enough to be the one who uncovered it. Digging further down, the metal bits proved themselves to be the metal rings that go around barrels. These were buried amongst bits of wire.
By this point we were ready to admit that it was probably an old drain that was used as a rubbish bit for builders (a fact helped by the fact we found a drain leading into the pit), but we were spurred on by the desire to find the bottom. So we dug. Our finds pile increased, and we came across some remarkable finds. A perfectly intact milk bottle and an urn. Well, we think it may be an urn. It is urn shaped and urn sized, but it being buried amongst a pile of rubbish puts some doubt as to what it actually might be.
After about five or six hours of digging we did manage to reach the bottom, by which point we were exhausted. The sun beat down on us. Dirt covered every inch of our clothes and body. Our discovery was an old, disused drain used as a rubbish pit. But, you know what? It was worth it. We got to have our own mini archaeological dig in the garden and discovered a whole array of things buried in the ground below. It may not have been an old castle or a Saxon burial site, but it was a discovery we made and we had fun making it.
Thinking back on it now, the whole thing could have been a metaphor for novel-writing, or any kind of writing at all. You start with the idea, the little stone peeking out at you, and slowly you start to build on it. You discover the world from which the idea came. Some things you discover are fun and exciting, others maybe not so much. Even if, by the end, you are worn out but you know that you had fun getting here. What you wrote may not be something everyone enjoys, but it means something to you, and it was you who made it happen. That is more important than anything.
All in all, I had a great day digging up my garden. Hopefully you enjoyed reading about the discovery of a drain. I will update either later today or tomorrow on my Camp Nanowrimo novel with what, at the moment, looks like good news. Right now I shall leave you with a picture of my dog guarding the dirt pile.