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Excavations; The Season so far
Topic Started: May 12 2007, 02:07 PM (990 Views)
MBetz
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Hey everyone,

This year has been going hell bent from the start. Justin's Area B started a week after Andy in Area A but that hasn't slowed down the finds any. Andy had three great weeks of weather for the beginning in his trench and Justin had a couple of busy weeks to begin. Finds of a possible mauseleum that had already been robbed, possibly in antiquity, and numerous wooden posts along with a number of hard packed floor surfaces has kept Justin guessing as to what exactly is going on in Area B. A set of four posts, two being rather large like those found last year, have extended the possible pre-Hadrianic building to almost 50 meters runing east-west. Further smaller posts are most likely a part of the buildings that would go with the Hadrianic floors that seem to be more of the workshops excavated a few years back and now on display. No major stone architectural features have come to light but as Justin has been heard to say, "the season is still young". Most recently Justin's crews have been widening the search for more posts to see if the massive timber building has made a turn to the south or is a lone structure with no attached wings. Rain these past few days has slowed progress but the report is for brightening skies middle of next week. Hopefully the meteorologists aren't throwing out false hope!

Andy's crews in Area A have been working in two of the vicus buildings that are on the north side of the main road into the west gate of the extant fort. The buildings are nearest the fort walls and have not been excavated below their late Empire vicus floors. Work has progressed deepest in the building further upslope (west) and finds have included a couple of leather shoe soles, bits of leather, worked wood, and part of a wattle fence. The archaeology is just at the top of the fill to the Antonine era ditches and once the water level drops a few feet some great finds should be awaiting dicovery by us volunteers. Half of the road between the two buildings has been excavated to an older road surface. Finds were few and large rocks requiring the sledgehammer were many! The north half of the roadway still needs excavation and may be slated for this week as the rain has made it unlikely for any work to be done in the "pit". The building closest to the fort wall was gotten to with a vengeance this past week. The whole team worked in the building dropping it down in places to a well made flag stone floor surface. Kudos to Linda, a brand new volunteer, on finding teh beatiful piece of "gladiator" glass. So far that has been the find of the season. Hopefully more will turn up in th ecoming weeks and the whole glass pattern can be pieced together.

If you need more updates to satisfy your archaeological appetite you can read my blog at http://diggerjournal.blogspot.com. I update evry few days about all sorts of things going on at Vindolanda and around the area. Good luck to all of us that still have some dig time left and to those of you who are done for teh season thanks for lending a trowel and wheelbarrow. Enjoy the season all.
Matt
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MBetz
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Update deux-

Last week Andy's crew did not get into the other half of the road even though it was a bit rainy. Both crew's missed a half day of digging due to the weather and were entertained by a discussion led by Andy with slides. Days of university class lectures came to mind during andy's talk. His was much better than most of my professors though! I and three other on Andy's crew opened an area outside of the IV Gaul fort's northwest corner to try and find the Antonine stone fort one wall. We found part of a turf rampart but no stone wall. On Wednesday we were able to reach the present fort wall and dig just enough to see that the Antonine fort wall may have been used as the foundation for the later fort's north wall. Therefore, the Antonine fort looks to be on a smaller scale than the Gaul fort since the south wall of the Antonine stone fort turns within the later Gaul fort. Thursday we opened a new trench in the small building behind Bldg. 28 in the vicus settlement. There was a great amount of pottery and a stroongly burned section of floor that we were not able to excavate fully by the end of the day. Depending on the weather (which has been rainy and sunny these past two days off) I may be digging in the building again or, if it is dry, back in the wall trench to define the rampart and verify for sure the course of the Antonine stone fort wall. The rest of the crew continued to excavate in Bldg. 29 find all the usual debris from different floor levels.

Justin had a fairly large crew this past week and were able to get to grips in a number of places in Area B. New sections were opened to see if the wooden posts continue to the east and also just south of the well near the temple/tombs. More Hadrianic floors were excavated and a wall seems to be emerging from the section opened just south of the well. The area opened furthest east in Area B may have a road or cobbled yard surface and some building rubble. Next week should give better account for the area. The areas that were already opened when the week started stayed pretty waterlogged throughout the week so there is not much to report on those areas.

Matt
Edited by MBetz, Feb 12 2011, 02:14 PM.
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MBetz
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Last Thursday, which is the end of a dig week for Area A, Andy and Beth found part of a writing tablet in Building 29 below the Severan floor. This is the first tablet found for the year. Now we just have to wait 6-8 weeks before anyone gets a chance to read the tablet fragment. And today it hailed during tea break. Is it really the end of May in Northumberland?
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MBetz
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This week only Area B is working as Andy is vacationing with his family. Since starting on Tuesday some gaming counters and two leather shoe soles have been the finds to talk about. One of the soles was found right on cue during one of Justin's "talks" when he was describing the leather and shoe finds from the site over the years. Uncanny, that. The gaming counters are glass and shale and we have dubbed that section of trench "the Las Vegas of Vindolanda". A few other counters were found last week and included at least one made of pottery.
The two shoe soles were found within the same patch of trench and one had a few hobnails still attached. That is the first time I have seen that.

The big news for Area B, though, is the topsoil has been removed for the rest of the excavation area compliments of a mechanical digger. It was a wonderful site to see as I know how difficult it is to get through the turf and topsoil to get to the good archaeology below. All of the rest of you volunteers coming to dig in Area B just won't know how lucky you are!
Matt
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MBetz
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The week of June 12-16 for Area B was a quagmire to be polite! Just two days of digging was had and one of those was topsoil removal. Plenty of backlogged pottery was washed and marked for deposit at the lab. The rain never really seem to let up from Wednesday through the weekend. Katie and I left on Sunday the 17th for Holy Island and the coast had good weather with a bit of sun peeking through. I know this past week Area A was able to dig most everyday. Anyone continuing to excavate the Antonine era stone fort 1 wall please post updates on your finds and pics as to what the archaeology looks like. Now that I am home I am already wanting to get back and dig some more! Being a human JCB is good for the weight loss!!

The one good day of digging on my last week did turn up a great find. Katie and I foound the lower half of a seated statuette commonly called a Dea Nutrix. The goddess is seated on a wicker chair commonly holding a baby or a cornucopia. Hopefully the upper part will be found in the ditch we were just getting into before the heavens released the flood. The detail of the gown is very sharp and shows little signs of wear.

Andy's area had a rather odd find of some gaffito on stone that looked like an alien. I will try to get a picture up as soon as I can. The grafitto was found this past week which ended for his team Thursday the 21st.

Matt
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