The excavation
The excavation was carried out by a team from Somerset County Museum
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This is how the specimen was found.
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Still surrounded by silty mud.
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A detail of the head with a tape for scale.
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Wielding a brush.
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Hammer for scale. The natural cracks in the shales split the specimen into four distinct blocks.
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Denis Parsons starting to remove the blocks surrounding the specimen. The shales are poorly consolidated.
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Denis investigating the smallest of the natural blocks which contain the specimen.
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Reducing the level of adjacent blocks to give access to the blocks containing the specime
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Lifting the block containing the end of the tail.
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The tail block free.
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Cutting a trench around to give access to the larger blocks.
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Because the shales are so poorly consoldiated, the risk of leaving the specimen for the next tide only partly extracted was considered to be too risky.
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Cutting using a slab cutter is not only much quicker that chiseling our by hand, but is also less damaging to the specimen.
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The surrounding trench completed.
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Finding a suitable bedding plane under the specimen.
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It was important to go deep enough so that the slab would remain intact during lifting without making the weight of the slab too much
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Ready for the next stage.
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Slabs from around the specimen contain large ammonites
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Slabs removed from around the specimen.
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Dennis checking the integrity of the main body slab before lifting.
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The block containing the head free of the bedding plane and ready for lifting.
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Freeing the first of the body blocks.
Unfortunately there is a natural fracture line running through the pectoral girdle.
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Digging down to find a suitable bedding plane.
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The block is raised slightly so that a sheet of plywood can slide underneath.
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The block on a plywood base. It can now be handled more easily.
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Finding a suitable bedding plane.
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Freeing the block.
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The all-terrain carts were lent by the Nature Conservancy Council.
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These machines were extremely useful, and saved a lot of manual handling.
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Loading the largest block onto the cart.
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Loading the head block.