Well, my curiosity as an archaeologist aroused, I returned to the field to collect more ceramics. All of these terra cotta pots and sherds I have seen so far are concentrated in a c30m square area near the centre of the field. I was again struck how the material is lying on the surface and is clearly not being thrown up with the soil from rabbit burrows. I did not see any empty cartridges or golf balls away from the same area, so naturally I began to wonder if there was some connection between shooting and the cones.
Anyway, I easily found another two complete cones and several near-complete ones. I picked up some fragments too, just to examine their fractures and to see if any joined with other sherds or indeed with damaged cones. I have in fact just joined a large sherd with a two-thirds of a cone to complete my fifth cone and it is now ‘resting’ in the kitchen after being ‘Uhu-ed’ perfectly along a sharp break.
Last night came the interpretative break-through. I had shown my first cone to several knowledgeable people and no-one had the faintest idea what it was. Yet my little collection of three complete ones by yesterday evening clearly rang a bell with John, my back-up sous shepherd who lives next to the sheep field. And the answer? – these cones are Art. He is checking the facts at the moment but remembers that in 2007, as part of a Suffolk Coastal Council Art Festival, several art installations appeared in and around Snape Warren. One was a diagonal line of these terra cotta cones across the very field now occupied by ‘my’ sheep. Who’d have thought it?
And a good New Year to all my Reader.