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'Area B'; June 2010
Topic Started: Jun 13 2010, 04:32 PM (455 Views)
David Ingham
Member
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Time for an update on Area B. The amazing dry weather of the last few weeks has let us get down into some of the ditches crossing the trench, turning up leather shoes, assorted wooden objects and the scrap of writing tablet mentioned elsewhere by Justin. We still have cobbles everywhere, but they're starting to make a bit of sense: there seem to be three phases of cobble-laying interspersed with episodes of ditch-digging. There doesn't seem to be much of the 3rd-century vicus, though - apart from the main cobbled road, we just have one building and a well or cistern. However, we still don't have confirmed dates for many of the features, so there's a chance that some might turn out a bit later than we currently think.

July will see a northward push as we hope to find some more stone buildings, but hopefully we'll still get enough dry weather to sort out some of the uncertainties in the deeper bits of trench.

An annotated version of the trench photo will follow shortly.
Attached to this post:
Attachments: Area_B__looking_north_west.jpg (687.08 KB)
Attachments: Area_B__looking_south.jpg (619.68 KB)
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David Ingham
Member
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Right - here's a quick attempt to explain what's going on in Area B. The earliest feature we've identified is a tight-knit layer of cobbles (visible in the central-left area of the photo looking NW), which seems to be cut by the ditch that's coloured pink on the annotated photo. It's present on both sides of the ditch, but we're still working on exposing it's full extent (and figuring out whether it's a road, yard or what). Another layer of cobbles covers this ditch, which in turn is cut by the yellow ditch, which runs underneath the major 8.3m wide road (red) that heads towards the workshops and water tanks near the exit gate. This part of the site then seems to go out of use for a while, with a thick build-up of sterile sand/silt, on top of which sits the one vicus building we've uncovered.

Other features include either a water cistern or the shallowest Roman well ever found, which was probably a bit earlier than the vicus building. The semi-circular stone feature south of the vicus building looks post-Hadrianic, but we don't know much more about it yet. Is it a drain? Is it a building? Is the location of a hearth within it coincidental, or were the two associated? We also have various timber posts and post-holes surviving (the posts are marked with white labels in the photos) - one of the buildings seems quite big, but the overall picture is still rather patchy. The final problem is the drains that cross the site: we'd previously assumed they're Victorian (having come across one of them in 2007), since they're so close to the surface, but all the pottery from them is Roman, and we've also got definite Roman features only inches below the turf.

Confused? Join the club. Plenty to scratch our heads about in July - if the rain stays away.
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Attachments: Area_B_annotated.pdf (3.3 MB)
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David Ingham
Member
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It's the same layer as we had in 2009, Harry, so it covered a pretty large area. It doesn't go any further north towards the tea shed, though, and we didn't pick it up in the 2007 exavations to the west. Judging by the number of water channels/drainage ditches in this general area, it was clearly very boggy in Roman times - it's possible that the build-up of soil was just due to successive minor floods. The sand/silt is quite similar to ditch silt, and is too sterile to have been dumped there deliberately, so perhaps the ditches used to overflow on a regular basis during a particularly wet couple of decades. There are distinct bands in it, so it might just have been deposited a centimetre at a time over 20 years or so. The land rises to the north and slightly to the west, so this area would have been liable to standing water.
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