This is the final post from your dig Director for the time being, following the conclusion of this Summer’s dig. We look forward to seeing you at the Barn where you will be able to wash all those lovely finds and enjoy a good mardle, as they say in these here parts.
At last we have left the site- hopefully in the same state we found it! What on earth will we do with ourselves for the next few days??
As you’d expect, much of the last two days has been taken up with fitting together loose ends, drying out waterlogged tarpaulins(and finding Rhiane’s lost kneeler under one of them), filling in and doing the final drawings.
Those present will know that I lost marks for inadvertently directing volunteers to the wrong Test pit for filling in (I said fill the ditch trench but I didn’t make clear which ditch!) then getting ratty about it. Manifold apologies to those involved.
I had worried that we had too many TP’s open and not enough people who were available to fill in. However, the gods of the Roman town smiled upon us when our new friend, Darren, appeared to see Mr. Jarrold. Darren has a mechanical digger… We were very pleased to see him!
We were also delighted to present our little friend Isadora- a constant companion and a real help with her sharp eyes and eagerness to help- with a certificate as an Honorary CRP member and one of the last of our CRP tee shirts. Her Mum made a great carrot cake and is duly signed up!
Just before filling in the final TP- which had given us a large Roman pit with pot, CBM and bone- Giles went back to chase down a metal object that Mick Collins had said was embedded in the TP wall.
And here it is- a complete brooch, about 1 in long and with the clasp in place. What a way to end!
I do have more that I want to say- but we’ll leave that for the Clarion…
Backfilling. Easy peasy when you’ve got one of these!!
The latest post from your dig Director Mike
Having expected heavy rain from the outset, we got away with things until lunchtime when it bucketed down. We can’t complain since this afternoon is the only time we’ve lost to rain in ten days which isn’t bad.
I took an executive decision- well, that is after asking Rhiane, Barbara, Giles and various others- to stop work on Saturday rather than Sunday. This is because we have loads of data which now needs processing and considering before we do more. And we will have done over 10 test pits in two weeks, including some that have proved very complicated.
So where are we? Don’t hold me to this but the situation appears to be as follows.
We have charted the position of the triple ditches as they cross Old Hall.
We have planned much of the site and may be clearer about what is post medieval garden levelling and what is older.
We have a video of the property taken from a drone that should help us with 1 and 2.
In the back paddock we have Roman pottery but a pretty modern cobbled surface and a rough wall which appears to be post medieval.
We have looked at the alleged Roman wall at the front of the property and excavated to its foundations. It isn’t Roman but a full survey report is being prepared.
We have a ditch 1 metre down in the old orchard which appears to line up with the triple ditches.
We have another unrelated (and rather smart) Roman ditch on the lawn at the front of the house.
We have at least two more Test pits to finish and comment on.
And, for the next few days, the weather prospects seem to be better…
We knew it was coming- if you can believe the on/off weather forecasts that we’ve been enduring- but the stair rods started at about midday. Rhiane’s TP were on top of their game and got a gazebo up before the torrent began. Others were slower and found bits missing from the other gazebo (well it hadn’t been used since 2012 so what do you expect?) and others improvised with tarpaulins and golf umbrellas! Whatever, we kept going until 4pm- another tribute to our hardy Volunteers!
The pit against the wall is nearly finished- of which more later- our mystery TP is still a mystery and the TP started by the children is yielding pottery, coins and other small finds.
But we are getting through. Rob and Wendy brought their drone- which means we now have good video of the site from above which we can use to trace old gardens and levels.
I’m hoping that we can say more about the other test pits as things become clearer in 24 hours.
That’s the on-site shower taken care of!!
Nice decorated piece of Samian
It looks as though Giles had a fun day with his budding young Archaeologists who will all be adding metal detector to there Christmas list for Santa! Here’s his summary of the day.
We had a really good turn-out for the family trench with over a dozen children and their parents getting stuck in to Test Pit 38 over the course of another sunny day. The trench produced a variety of finds including part of a Victorian ginger beer bottle, late medieval slipware and a fair quantity of abraded Roman pottery sherds. Just below the topsoil my metal detector sweep drew our attention to a post-medieval coin, I did my best to explain to the youngsters that finding a coin in your first test pit was not the norm but they then went swiftly on to find another two themselves! These three copper farthing coins of Charles II were found in a close cluster. The issue date on one is 1673 making it one of the first copper coins struck at the Royal Mint and also one of the first times that Britannia appeared on British coins since the Roman period. This little hoard of coins may be all that remains from a lost coin purse – the owner must have been pretty miserable the day they reached down to buy a round of ale in the local that day.
I was able to make my first visit to this summer’s dig and was pleased to see some new faces amongst the regular stalwarts. It was particularly pleasing to see one or two younger members have joined us, thus at a stroke dramatically reducing the average age of a typical CRP digging team.This is particularly important in terms of sustainability as a number of us older lags are sporting a variety of injuries and niggles which can impact on our digging capabilities. To whit some of you may have been wondering why I have not been digging so far this time. Or then again you might not. In spite of a warning from Chrissy not to do further damage to my creaking limbs whilst visiting the grandchildren overseas, I managed to break a toe hurtling to the bottom of the swimming pool in a vertical jump from the diving board. You may gather from this that I don’t do growing old gracefully! The subsequent limp then set off the problem in my pelvis that surfaces from time to time. This I might add courtesy of a gentleman in the opposing XV during my rugby playing days who mistook my back for the ball. Easy mistake to make!!! Anyway the dodgy back together with a busy time familywise curtailed my availability on this occasion. But I’ll be back, as Arnie once said.
Finally before signing off I’d like to add my appreciation to Barbara and her team for stepping in to the breach in Chrissy’s absence and doing such a great job.
PS I did come across a funny shaped hole on my visit. See pic below.
I told you those Chinese tape measures were useless!
We arrived at Old Hall this morning and, on entering the barn, found ourselves surrounded by feathers. We found a female sparrowhawk sitting malignly on one of the cross beams. Sadly the sound of squawking house martins, so familiar to us, was no longer there.
To add insult to injury, John P, carrying out his duly authorised duties as our survey leader, had a corpse dropped on him! We went off to work and came back at tea break to yet more feathers. The darned thing sat there all day, staring at us and eying us up for a further kill…
If you include TP 32 with the ditch, we now have for pits open. We didn’t work TP 31 today since Adrian was away and we decided that the sequence of yard surfaces was his private hell.
We opened TP 34 the night before. This is just behind the Granary building and has yielded a lot of pottery. We had another yard surface there and are delving below it. The pottery is mostly Roman which either means that the surface is also Roman or- more likely- it’s been dumped from somewhere else. Watch this space. TP 33- just above TP 32 on the lower terrace is on the go and is yielding some pot. Not much to say yet.
Another really good day with plenty of possibilities opening up…
I know this looks suspicious but!
It may just look like a mucky hole to you….
In our topsy turvy world of weather, we are bathed in warm sunshine and all is well with the world. We returned to dismantle the gazebo and deal with the soggy buckets of soil that couldn’t be sieved yesterday.
In the TP by the barn, Adrian and company are into their umpteenth yard surface. They keep on coming and we can’t date them because we are not finding anything but old brick and tile- and, as we know, that could have been dumped to make up a surface and doesn’t date our contexts. But the team are happy with their hole.
Elsewhere it’s the day of the ditch. In the TP in the old orchard area- where finds are few but mostly Roman- Rhiane arrived to take the depth down to 1 metre of disappointment. We decided to have a quick tickle in one of the corners- could have been any one- but she dug on the left of the northern pit face. First she came upon the unmistakable grey stuff that we saw last year in other waterlogged pits. Then we saw an unmistakable cut across it that showed we were looking at the edge of a ditch. The ditch runs north west to south east- and is at least 1.5 metres wide, auguring tells us. So have we found the course of the triple ditches as they run across the orchard? If Rhiane had chosen a different corner, we would have missed it. It may be just a waterlogged hole to some- but for us it’s a real find. At the other end of the property, John P has been planning and thinks he can see the course of the ditches running much further to the west than we’d expected. Whatever, this is good stuff- finds poor but feature rich.
And we have opened a third test pit…
One Mucky Hole!
One for the caption competition!