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Area B, June 2009
Topic Started: Jun 14 2009, 06:46 PM (550 Views)
David Ingham
Member
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After all the cobbles of April and May, Justin extended the trench eastwards to try to escape them. No such luck! The photo shows a north-south road running along the right-hand side of the trench, with a roadside ditch to the left.
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David Ingham
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At least we've finally got some decent archaeology in Area B as well as the cobbles. The nicely dressed masonry in the bottom left of the photo currently looks like the base of a gate tower for the western gateway of the Period II/III fort. It's rather near the surface for such early remains, and 100 years earlier than what wer're meant to be looking for, but we'll gloss over that for now.

The line of stones to the right appears to be the base of a rampart. It lines up with some of the previously excavated Severan remains(stone fort II) - the only problem is that a ditch running along the far edge of the trench also looks Severan, which would mean that the rampart lay outside the fort ditch. Not very likely. There's also the wall of a vicus building running along the line of the ditch, and another wall on the right of the photo, perpendicular to the rampart base.
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David Ingham
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The rampart base can be seen running up the left hand side of the trench, to the right of the north-south cobbled road. There are several breaks in the line of stones due to later disturbance - probably the 19th-century farmers at work again! There must have been better places to plough, surely?
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David Ingham
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Spot on, Harry - I'd have coloured in the photo myself if I'd have thought of it. The trench location is about right as well - we'll be heading north and north-west as the season progresses. I'll annotate next week's photo, since we'll probably have completely revised the interpretation of the trench yet again by then....

It's certainly odd to have masonry associated with the Period II/III gate so close to the surface, but we only get just over 1m of archaeology at this point before we hit natural clay. Andy's 2004 trench, just a few metres to the east, had pre-Hadrianic buildings only a few feet below the turf, so it's not completely bizarre. Hopefully we'll be able to have a better look at it this week if the weather stays fair.
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David Ingham
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As predicted, the interpretation of what's happening in Area B is still somewhat fluid. The photo below shows the trench looking north towards the tea hut. I've also included an annotated version, just in case it isn't immediately obvious to everyone what's going on in the photo....

The line of stones previously suspected to be a rampart base now looks more like wall foundations (Antonine - mid-2nd century?), while the stones along the eastern edge of the trench have turned into a drain (though possibly still associated with a vicus building). We appear to have the south-west corner of the Severan fort ditch, although its course is proving surprisingly tricky to follow for a 5m-wide ditch. There's also another ditch to the west of the Severan one, running north-south; it's possibly a roadside ditch (following the eastern edge of the road), but the road surface is proving a bit unclear at the moment. The cobbled road at the bottom of the photo runs east-west.

There's no sign of the northern side of the Period II/III gateway - it was presumably robbed out. The natural clay is turning up at less than 1m below the turf, which would explain why the gateway is so close to the surface when the other Period II/III remains are mostly 5m down....
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Edited by David Ingham, Jul 4 2009, 02:15 PM.
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David Ingham
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We're very close to Andrew's 2004 trench (less than 10m east of our current area), so I'd imagine any Antonine buildings would similarly relate to the 'military annex'. The dating evidence is still circumstantial, though - we might yet shift the possible Antonine bits to a different period.

The ditch could have been a water channel; we're also questioning the term 'roadside' at the moment, as it now looks as though it might have been cut through the road. It might also not have been all one ditch......

It's 'wait and see', as usual.
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