This paper describes the use of a relational database and three-dimensional graphics system to investigate the contents of a mid-Saxon rubbish pit at Southampton, England. The aim of the project was to answer questions about rubbish disposal and site formation. Both databases and graphics are useful tools for the archaeologist. The combination permits a loop which involves problem posing, data extraction, graphic display and interpretation. The interpretation refines the archaeologist's knowledge of the data. This leads to a new or revised problem and an iteration of the loop. © 1988.