This is my favourite thing I've dug up in my current garden. An Unidentified Ceramic Object. Yay!
There's not much to relieve the tedium of digging at this time of year, as I make my annual futile stand against the couch grass roots. Digging is a bit of a chore for me. This is a large garden for one person to be managing on their own, and I struggle to keep up with it. And I'm afraid I don't go in for the double-digging that all the beefy blokes on the telly seem to think is necessary for the successful cultivation of vegetables, because (a) I have the body of a weak and feeble woman and (b) if you dig down more than a foot or so in my garden you get to solid sand, and there's not a lot to be gained by dredging that up into the topsoil.
But one of the curiosities I come across when I'm digging is all the little shards of pottery. Small pieces usually, white with occasional bits of blue on them. Old-fashioned willow-pattern stuff.
Our house was built in 1936, so the garden has been a garden for just over 70 years. I've noticed that many gardens of this age seem to have broken crockery mixed into the soil. It's a bit odd really. I mean, on the rare occasions when I break a tea-plate, I can't say my immediate instinct is to open the window and frisbee it across the vegetable patch.
I suppose the most likely explanation is that some previous gardener has used them as crocks in the bottoms of flower pots, and over time they've been dumped out onto the soil. I find it quite fascinating to find these little relics of my predecessors' domestic china. Cups and plates which served tea and biscuits to people in my house in another era. Seeing the china they ate their meals off is a strangely intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of the long dead.
The ghosts of tea-sets past.
My previous house was newly built, on the site of a small television factory. Most of the factory was still there, underneath six inches of topsoil, as that was evidently what the builders thought would serve as a garden. I nearly killed myself digging out all the buried rubble. Bits of glass and wire and concrete and other crap would show up from time to time. But once I got most of that out, I started unearthing bones. Quite large ones, in some cases. And huge teeth. They were old brown bones which had obviously been around for a while. I had visions of somebody burying their pet horse out there. Or had I finally found Shergar?
The mystery was eventually solved by a neighbour whose ancient uncle had lived in the street all his life, and who remembered there being a pig farm and abattoir on the site back in the 1930s. Charming. I'm not sure I'd have bought the house if I'd known it was built over a former slaughterhouse, but there you go.
Anybody else digging up interesting stuff in their plots?