The Spitfire Dig is finished! We returned today to lift the remains of the plane, and recovered many interesting objects. Star find has to be the propeller (above), which we were thrilled to recover in this condition. Much of the Merlin engine had blown up on impact, but we recovered the parts we could, including one large piece, and the Rolls Royce engine plate. We also uncovered the stainless steel Smiths badge, the engine ignition, and the regulator voltage plate - dated to 1939. The oxygen tank was in particularly good condition. It has been great seeing so much paint still surviving on the bodywork, including the red paint on part of the tail.
Stephen Macaulay, Project Director for Oxford Archaeology East, said: " We hoped that because the Spitfire crashed in peat soil that the artefacts would be well-preserved but the condition of many the finds including the headrest, oxygen tank and pilot’s helmet were beyond our expectations.
Kate Carver, Great Fen Project Manager said: "The excavation has proved fruitful, poignant and highly symbolic for our Fenland heritage. All the teams have worked wonderfully well together with a strong sense of camaraderie which will stay with us for a long time - and the memory of Harold Penketh now lives on in a far more tangible way."
There was a great cheer when the last surviving piece of the engine was lifted! We ended the day with a military toast of Navy Rum to Pilot Officer Harold Penketh. RIP.
Above: the Oxford Archaeology team
Right: the oxygen tank
Below: the stainless steel Smiths badge