Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]

From Aug 2006 - Nov 2013 WeDig provided a live forum for diggers & fans of Vindolanda. It has now been mothballed and will be maintained as a live archive.

Here you will find preserved 7 years of conversation, photos, & knowledge about a site many people love. Vindolanda gets under the skin. (Figuratively and literally as a volunteer excavator!) It's a place you remember, filled with people you remember!

Thanks for 7 great years!

Welcome to We Dig Vindolanda!

Username:   Password:
Add Reply
Area A blog, May 2010; courtesy Tim "Badger" Wolter
Topic Started: May 2 2010, 06:14 PM (442 Views)
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
WeDig'er Badger is on his second week at Vindolanda, this time with Andy in Area A. This thread will show his daily updates from the trenches!

Day 1: 2 May


We moved inside the fort today, as part of a larger team digging that site. 22 of us, working five different spots. Fred and I are digging alongside a Dutchman, a Scot and two Brits, so we are sort of the Foreign Legion this week. One other American on the site, although she is currently living in Japan. Very cosmopolitan bunch.

Not much for small cool finds, our current assignment is to uncover the main road leading from the front gate to the headquarters. Huge pavers, slabs the size of coffee tables, at least where 18th century stone robbers have not nicked them. Fun to expose a big, clearly defined structure for the first time since perhaps the sixth century when a collapsing barracks wall fell on it.

But always the mysteries.

Slap on top of the whole mess seems to be a line of large stones that are either a late, post roman foundation, or architectural overkill in the form of huge rocks covering a drainage ditch. Not sure which, but tomorrow may tell us.

-- Tim and Fred
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
Day 2: 3 May


Day two on the new site. Interesting stuff, but not the kind of area that produces lots of finds.

We are basically digging on the main road that led in the front gate of the fort. About the width of a standard American street, with huge, one ton slabs of stone as pavers. This was an area that was clean in the Roman era, as the Centurions made sure that it was so.

Slap atop the road there is a post Roman building. Now, it appears that the blokes who lingered on after the Romans left went to the trouble to lever out some of these big honking slabs to erect in the same spot a rather shabby, drunkenly wobbling foundation. What? Did they not realize that they already had a solid base with probably four feet of packed rubble under it? Instead they constructed this weird structure, likely mostly timber, that probably fell over after who knows how long. Well, I guess they don't call it the Dark Ages for nothing.

Small finds tend to be random stuff, kicking around from various demolitions. We came up with a stone gambling counter, a broken quorn (mill stone), bits of pottery and several whetstones. Elsewhere on the site beads, bits of jewelry and a counterfeit coin have turned up.

Onward tomorrow, we have already unearthed roughly 24 feet of the roadway, and expect we can keep up the 12 foot a day pace.

-- Tim and Fred
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
Day 3: 4 May


We continue to expose sections of the main road from the fort front gate. Actually, towards the end of occupation it was pretty much the only road, as the east, west and south gates were either walled up or much reduced in size.

If your tastes run towards understanding how structures fit together, it has been a bang-up few days. We have unearthed a 30 foot by 15 foot section of road with a post-Roman structure perched atop it. Cool archaeology, and I am definitely planning on standing tall on this pavement in the future and saying 'I dug this'.

But lamentable lack of interesting small items. This area was kept pretty clean. Even the little nooks and crannies in the road were immaculate. Probably the last Roman to leave left an inscription to the effect of: 'Sweep the Road Daily'. The post-Roman Dark Agers likely ignored this edict. But having nothing but bone, wood and leather to discard (and these decompose near surface levels) there is literally nothing to be found in most of this trench.

A small enameled item unearthed yesterday proved to be a modern necklace. We also found most of a Roman brick yesterday. No cool legionary stamp or anything, but we were shown the brick maker's finger swipe that basically said: This Side Up.

- Tim and Fred
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
Day 4: 5 May


The deturfing cohort (our motto 'Fenestra Terrus Omnium') had been suffering from flagging morale. Several consecutive days of donkey work. Another crushing defeat at Quiz night, perhaps the extra pint required to wash the taste of such defeat away.....spirits were at low ebb.

So Fred and Pierre were sent on detached duty to an interesting location where earlier strucures lie close to the surface and may be accessable. The spot smells awful and has some sort of drainage difficulties. Perhaps an area of packed clay from previous demolition and capping. If anything turns up it will probably be in great shape. So far just the usual pottery shards, but another day of digging crooks its finger and winks....

I am still peeling turf and exposing the huge flagstones on the main road. It is work that is simultaneously inspiring and monotonous. Fab structures, they will stand with solid shoulders for another thousand years. But uncovering one is much the same as another. And another. And another.

Few finds, I did come up with a gaming counter, sort of like a home-made poker chip. Next to me a very battered household altar turned up. The writing was totally gone, so both the owner and the deity he worshipped are now dust.

If I might be allowed a brief aside.

Archeology is mostly the pursuit of knowlege. But the pursuit of precious objects is deeply ingrained in us all. What, you thought the Romans came all the way to Britain to check out the rumors that the locals worshipped oak trees and painted themselves blue?

So after spending a goodly number of days slowly enriching the archeological database I do not mind saying that I would like to find some interesting artifact on my last day. There is something entirely authentic about holding in your hand something that a fellow human being held so many generations ago. He or she prized it, and for us to do the same is only a fit commemoration of our heritage.

Then of course we hand it over, as is right and proper.

Once more to the trench!

- Tim and Fred
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
Day 5: 6 May


Dodgy weather today, fog solidifying to mist, then turning to cold rain. Of course, the area Fred and Pierre were in had drainage issues to start with and quickly became a lake. Our Dutch comrade has some experience with canals, but it was not possible to create effective drainage.

So it was the full deturfing crew back at the road site. By our final tally we ended up exposing an area of road some 60 feet by 15 feet over the course of the dig. Few finds today. The distance between surface and pavers was between 6 and 15 inches, shallow enough that new stuff was turning up often. But from the number of plastic coffee stirrers, and one plastic spoon, it seems likely that a previous expedition used this site as its tea break area!

My find of interest today was a single broken bead made of black jet. It had a shiny surface and was perhaps once a treasured possesion of some little girl who walked these stone slabs some 15 centuries ago. Which was the last time light shone on this street!

Cheers

-- Tim and Fred
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
Final Recap, Week 5


Various sites were under excavation over the week, making it hard to create a comprehensive picture of the accomplishments.

Most visibly the distinctive mound in the middle of the site (Andy called it the Vindolanda Carbuncle, and last week's crew called it Meercat Manor) is no more. A true digging hero, Kevin from Scotland, obliterated it over the course of 7 or 8 days. This was yeoman duty, since it was known to be a spoil heap with no chance of finds.

Barracks blocks continue to be explored, and rather excitingly a Severan roundhouse intact to at least two tiers of stone has been found where lazy Fourth Cohort builders just slapped a road over it instead of doing proper demo work.

Another area of visible progress was the main road from headquarters to North gate. Concerted effort, helped along by last day weather that made other areas soggy, has opened up a stretch about 60 feet long and 15 feet wide over the past five days. About 60% of the original pavers remain.

Tumbled over one side are cobbles from a barracks on the edge of the NE quadrant, with post roman building activity on top of it.

Actually an off week for small finds, the road in particular being rather barren. But gaming counters have turned up, and a small coin from Theodosius the Great which is somewhat helpful for dating purposes.

Hope to have photos up in a few days!

Tim Wolter
Edited by Badger, May 10 2010, 03:23 PM.
Offline Profile Quote Post Goto Top
 
ZetaBoards - Free Forum Hosting
Enjoy forums? Start your own community for free.
« Previous Topic · 2010 · Next Topic »
Add Reply