Welcome Guest [Log In] [Register]

Justin Blake's official Vindolanda excavation Twitter feed

Unless otherwise noted, all plans below are unofficial interpretations only.
They are meant to help orient diggers & friends.
They are not designed to scale, nor to imply archaeological accuracy.

Welcome to We Dig Vindolanda!

Username:   Password:
Locked Topic
  • Pages:
  • 1
Area of Excavations 2011
Topic Started: Mar 24 2011, 09:09 AM (1,947 Views)
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
This image shows the basic area of excavation for the 2011 season (as I understand it from Andy's description and the Trust's website).

Posted Image

As the '11 season progresses, I'll try to update the plan weekly, showing about where folks are digging & what levels they're in. (All pending Trust approval, of course). This means we need WeDig'ers to send in pictures and/or reports. Even a one-sentence wrap-up at the end of the week is a big help. Find a wall, tell us! Find a floor, a road, an oven, an amphora, tell us! Find something priceless? DON'T TELL US! :D (Seriously, info that helps armchair diggers follow the season is awesome. But info that leads robbers to sweet spots has no place here.)

Happy digging!
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 1
** updated 12 April**

Many thanks for notes from Terry S and Hadriana, plus a nice e-mail from Andy. Below shows the opening week.
Posted Image
(larger version available by clicking here)

Terry S reports digging near the surface following the barrack wall that runs just to the east of the main north-south road within the fort. (The road with many of its impressive flagstones still in place.) Site #1 on the map. This would be the upper layers, 4th-5th Century (and beyond?). Next to him, a team worked in the area of the 3rd Century temple discovered in 2009 -- Site #3 on the map; unsure what levels there.

Hadriana reports working in the front of the barracks, Site #2 on the map. She and crews next to her were working a bit north of the area where the north-south road (the via praetoria) meets the east-west road (the via principalis). She reports the usual finds of pottery, nails, metal bits. But also a carved stone and -- amazingly -- a "measuring tape" stone with lines and triangles notched into it to help builders mark out buildings/roads. Too cool. Her crews are also comparatively deep down. She seems to have spent some time in 3rd Century levels (the early years of the visible Stone Fort II), but also worked on at least one Antonine era road. (That would be late 2nd Century, part of the leveled Stone Fort I. The road may be the equivalent to the visible via praetoria. Parts of this older N/S road were discovered in late 2010.)

Looks like the weather was (mostly) conducive to diving right in. Hat's off to first-week'ers, and many thanks for the reports! I think it's going to be fun watching this unfold.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 2

The areas being uncovered in Week 2 appear to be the same as Week 1.
Posted Image
(larger version available by clicking here)

Limited news from WeDig'ers so far from Week 2. Justin's Twitter feed shows activity in (I believe) Site #2 on the map, largely in the Antonine levels. That's late 2nd Century, "Stone Fort I." The visible fort is "Stone Fort II," built mostly over the flattened remains of SFI. Justin mentions maybe hitting a centurion's apartment. The centurion headed a "century" or company of soldiers -- 80 or so men. Each barrack row in a Roman fort held a century. The centurion's apartment sat at one end. Regular soldiers slept several to a room, but the centurion lived in relative luxury, with a multi-room apartment of his own.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 3

Work seems to have shifted to a much-expanded Site #2 on the map. Site #3, the Dolicheneum (temple complex to Jupiter Dolichenus) is undergoing conservation for permanent display.

Posted Image
(larger version available by clicking here)

Site #2 on the map sits in the rightmost of 3 barrack-rows that occupy the NW quarter of the latest fort, "Stone Fort II." Diggers are excavating down through this Stone Fort II barrack block to the earlier Antonine fort below, "Stone Fort I." Well-preserved Antonine barracks & road systems are starting to show up in these deeper levels. This earlier fort layout seems to be shifted 4-5 meters to the right (east) of the later fort. The map above shows the layout of the latest fort. You can see that the main north-south road runs just to the east of the barrack in Site #2, with a smaller alley just to the west of that barrack. The same system is showing up for the Antonine fort underneath, just shifted to the right.

Sandwiched between SFI and SFII is a very short-lived period, the "Severan" occupation of about AD 208-213. In ~AD 208 the whole of SFI was knocked to the ground, and the area was instead covered by bizarre "roundhouses." Reason still unknown! But at least one of these roundhouses has been found between SFI and SFII in Site #2 (photos coming), including its foundations and an oven.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 4

Site #2 has been the heart of the activity this week.
Posted Image
(larger version available by clicking here)

Reports and pictures are showing really impressive features. Below the latest fort, Stone Fort II, many of the Severan "roundhouses" are showing up, including ovens & hearths in their midst. Below them are well-preserved barracks, roadways, and roadside drains of Stone Fort I. The find of a piece of samian pottery with a repair made in lead emphasizes how prized these plates & bowls were.

Many of the SFI barrack walls seem to be slumped into an earlier north-south ditch. If so, this is odd, as this area would also have been within the walls of the earlier forts. A ditch running inside a fort? Elsewhere, curious stones by the temple at the north of the fort suggest possibly a gated entrance to that section of fort/fort road.

Looks like another great week of digging. Photos have come in and I'll try to get them (and their links) up soon!
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
Badger
Member Avatar
Member
[ *  * ]
Walked over to the site yesterday. And Harry is correct, some serious archeology is coming up. In addition to the mysterious north south ditch (?) speculated to run under the area marked as 2 in Harry's most recent map, there also appears to be an east west area of settling near the top of this area. It is sufficient to be causing some of the massive pavers of the Stone Fort II main road to sink.

Could this be not just one errant ditch but the corner of a defensive ditch system

But so very much in the wrong place!

Tim Wolter
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 5

Focus seems to have shifted slightly west from Site #2, to a new strip I'll label Site #4. This is the smaller roadway between two sets of barrack blocks to the west, and the heavily excavated barrack block to the east (the focus of Site #2).
Posted Image
(larger version available by clicking here)

This roadway is something of an alley for local comings & goings. Instead of large flagstones it was cobbled. "Badger" Tim reports that much digging is going into defining walls along both sides of the roadway, while other crews are preparing to lift the road up to see what lies beneath. It seems that what's being found is similar to Site #2 -- a well-defined range with the 3rd/4th Century buildings on top, evidence of the short-lived Severan roundhouses below, and well-preserved barrack block/roadway from the 2nd C Stone Fort I. As at Site #2 just to the east, the layout of SFI's buildings & road look very similar to SFII, except that the former was all shifted to the east about 10-15 feet or so.

Meanwhile, all up and down Site #2, a great sequence of SFII/roundhouses/SFI is currently on display. It seems to have been a busy 5 weeks! The great series of photos from Terry & Pauline have shown the latest barrack block to be divided into apparently 9 apartments, with the northernmost seeming to be the centurion's quarters. I've updated the map to show that.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 6
(May 9 - May 13)

This week was all Site #4 -- "Temple Avenue."
Posted Image
(larger version available here)
** Note: I've tightened up Site 4 to stay within the bounds of the 3rd/4th C roadways. And I've also squeezed the western two barracks down a bit. After being on site I can see that "Temple Ave" is bigger & more prominent than I'd been drawing it. **

The goal was to take out the 4th & 3rd C road surfaces, to see the late 2nd C (Antonine) level below. Andy & Justin expected there to be another Antonine barrack hidden under it -- a mirror image of the barrack to the east.

But as the week went on, it became clear that things weren’t going to be so easy. A lot of strange things popped up. At the far northern bit of the road, we came down on a layer of heavy burning, and some unfaced stones. Just south of that, we hit a 4ft x 4ft section of beautiful flagstone flooring, which might be Severan and still might lie on top of the Antonine barrack, if it’s there. A bit further south, Pete looked like he’d found proper Antonine barrack wall. But after another day or so of digging it looked much less clean & straight. Further south still, Jeff’s crew came down on some very odd stonework that looked like a T-junction for a drain. Again probably Severan, and no sign yet of the Antonine wall.

So the ground under the 3rd/4th C roadways is full of mysteries, most of them truncated, or bashed up, or otherwise really hard to figure out. Still, it was a good week. If you knew what you were going to find, there’d be no point digging. Week 7 will continue the work in trying to get down to Antonine levels, and then hopefully something will start coming up that makes sense!
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 7
(May 16 - May 20)

More heavy work on Site #4, and a return to Site #1
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

Dodging wind and rain, crews spent most of their effort clearing more of the 3rd & 4th C road ("Temple Ave") in Site #4 down to the Antonine level. Justin mentions a well-preserved Severan roundhouse sandwiched between the 3rd C road and the Antonine levels, sounds good!

Other reports list a nice catalog of fun finds, from legionary stamps on tiles to large bits of glass, samian pottery fragments, an octagonal column base, a knife blade, beads.

Elsewhere, work is ramping back up in Site #1, the northern end of the flagged main N/S roadway of the latest fort. Underneath the 3rd/4th C road is the expected continuation of the Antonine barrack that was found to the south. But as in Site #4, the farther north the dig goes, the less well-preserved the Antonine material. What was nice finished, faced stonework in the south turns to unsquared rubble foundation core to the north. In the western bit of Site #1, crews have begun descending into 3rd Century barrack floors. This northern part of this particular barrack would have been the centurion's quarters. Regular soldiers slept about 8 to a room; centurions got their own private multi-room suite at the end of a barrack block, so lived comparatively well.

(Curiously, the Antonine fort that lay below the latest fort reversed the position of the barracks -- their centurion quarters were placed near the center of the fort, rather than the northern edge.)
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 8
(May 23 - May 27)

Finishing up current work on Site #4, more in Site #1, and two new sites: #5 & #6
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

This week started with major rain & wind, but picked up by the end. Diggers finished tearing out gently excavating away the last remains of Temple Avenue along Site #4, finally laying bare the Antonine road/barrack surface. (Remember, the Antonine (late 2nd C) fort was shifted a bit to the east (right) of the later fort. So under the 3rd/4th C alley lies the eastern edge of an Antonine barrack and the western half of its corresponding alley.) More well-preserved Severan roundhouses showed up in the process.

Remains in Site #1 were also cleared, in places down to the Antonine levels where they could be reached. It's become clear that all of the late 2nd C and 3rd C material is subsiding into an earlier north-south ditch -- probably the eastern ditch of Vindolanda's Period IV fort (early 2nd Century, pre-Hadrianic).

As Temple Avenue work ended, crews were pulled to start working in the 4th Century apartments just to its west, Site #5. They started clearing the battered 4th C levels to reveal the 3rd Century barracks below. One room was clearly a workshop, as it was filled with a mass of burned material, as well as large amounts of pottery and other small finds. As usual, weird things were found -- badly behaved walls & drains appearing where they didn't belong, etc.

Lastly, another new area, Site #6, was started. This is the intervallum road running between the north end of the barracks and the north wall of the fort. Evidence of multiple repavings came to light, but little in the way of finds.

Cheers to katesf for the bulk of the info, along with Justin's great Twitter feed and photos by TerryS showing the state of things at the beginning of Wk 9 (which is how they were left at the end of Wk 8).
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 9
(May 30 - June 3)

Heavy focus on the expanded Site #5, continued work on Site #6
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

*** Note the updated plan for the barrack in Site #5. The overlying 4th-5th C remains have been removed from the site, revealing the orderly 3rd C barrack block in its entirety: 8 apartments for regular soldiers, and a suite of rooms at the north end for the centurion. (Divisions in the centurion's block partially conjectural.) ***

Week 9 went from cold & clammy to full sun & scorching, with some hard digging. The heavy focus of the week was clearing all of the rooms in the Site #5 barrack block down to their original 3rd Century levels. And then to start going underneath, to the Severan & Antonine periods below. The barrack is well-preserved in places, with some walls still up to 6 courses high including foundation. The east-facing doorways are visible in most of the barrack rooms.

Within the rooms were some interesting finds of stone storage boxes, evidence of burning/fire pits, as well as some wonderful small finds -- a spearhead, stamped objects, most of a highly decorated samian bowl, much else.

One of the barracks revealed a truly impressive semicircular flagstone floor underneath its surface. Andy says that the floor predates the barrack that was built on top of it. He also says that in places diggers have come down onto levels from the AD 160s. (Keep in mind, that means that those levels have nothing to do with the currently visible barrack block -- they relate to the Antonine period fort and its arrangement of buildings/roads.)

In cleaning up the verandah area in front of the barrack block (which would be the east side -- facing "Temple Avenue"), diggers also starting delving beneath the 3rd Century levels into the Severan/Antonine below. Walls, footings, foundation rubble, and other truncated stone features have come up. Not sure yet if any sense has been made of how they relate to each other.

Lastly, other diggers continued peeling away the multiple road surfaces of the intervallum road in Site #6; no reports of finds or discoveries from there.

All in all it seems that, once consolidated, Temple Avenue and its well-preserved barrack blocks on either side should look awesome. Visitors will be able to get a true & coherent sense of space. Pretty cool.

Much thanks to Terry S & Sue Monro for details & pictures, as well as to Andy for helping fill in the blanks. Please visit the Week 9 page for great pictures & links of the barrack rooms and the samian pottery.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 10
(June 6 - June 10)

Continued push on Site #5 in prep for aerial crane camera
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

Week 10 was all about the final cleaning of the barrack block just west of Temple Avenue down to its original 3rd Century layout. This involved removing the last bits of a 4th C workshop, trying to make sense of various pits and wobbly floors, and the usual head-scratchers. Word from all is that it looks stunning. Looking forward to pictures from the week if & as possible! Reports of more great finds, lovely pottery, the remains of another Severan roundhouse, and a probable pre-Antonine (meaning early 2nd Century) ditch that is causing the Antonine (and later?) walls to subside.

From all reports, the teams this year so far have come up with archaeology that is going to be visible, gorgeous, & very educational to visitors for years or decades to come. Thanks to el kevano, Lyn A, and Justin for great info. Can't wait to see the pictures from maryb_10!
Edited by SacoHarry, Jun 13 2011, 07:16 PM.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 11
(June 13 - June 17)

Location provisional, seems to be still Site #5, inside the barrack block west of "Temple Avenue"
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

The digging seems to be continuing downward underneath the floor levels of the 3rd Century barrack block. Reports are coming in now of very well-preserved wood, probably from early-to-mid 2nd Century (pre-Antonine) levels. Ian & Averil sent a note reporting the possible top of a wooden water tank peeking up!! Proof again that just a few feet below the ground the preservation at Vindolanda is striking.

If you have time, take a look through the quick flip-through page of the various occupation periods.* What's visible at the surface is mostly VII-X. The levels diggers have now gone down to are probably periods IV and V. These early periods are completely unrelated to anything visible at the surface of the site. They date to a much larger early Vindolanda fort that was in use at the time that Hadrian's Wall was being built in the 120s AD. This fort would have had wooden walls, and wooden barrack buildings. So if preservation holds, all kinds of amazing posts, walls, floors, fencing, etc. might still lie intact. As well as the answers to a lot of questions about just how the early forts were laid out. Really exciting stuff!

* This flip-through was made in early 2009 before the late barracks were uncovered & recorded. Site #5 above lies right about where the "north pointer" symbol is.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 12
(June 20 - June 24)

Continuing under Site #5, and returning to southern tip of the old Site #2.
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

All reports were rain, rain, & more rain. Making for a slow & frustrating week. But there were bright spots. WeDig'er Rosie reports 4 main teams. 3 continued in Site #5, working up and down the barrack to the left of Temple Ave. One team in the centurion's quarters at the northern end came down on yet another of the Severan roundhouses. A second team in the barracks was well down into 2nd Century layers, even digging up pre-Hadrianic pottery. The third worked at the southern edge of the barrack amid a muddle of drains, road, & ditch. The fourth team was across Temple Avenue at the southern end of the right-hand (eastern) barrack block, back in Site #2 which was the focus of the early weeks this year. They too seem to have been sorting through various ditch/road/drain bits.

Apparently clear skies and warm for Week 13. Please keep sending in tidbits. A picture, a sentence, a paragraph. Whatever you have time/incliation for. And happy digging, summer WeDig'ers!
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
SacoHarry
Member Avatar
Administrator
[ *  * ]
END OF WEEK 13
(June 27 - July 1)

Same locations as Week 12, digging down well into the early-mid 2nd Century anaerobic layers.
Posted Image
(larger version available here)

Rosie reports diggers working in the same locations as Week 12, digging down well into the preserved anaerobic layers of the early 2nd Century. Reports of laminate bracken floor "carpeting" coming up, which is where so much of Vindolanda's wooden, leather, and cloth items have come from in the past.

WeDigers Ian & Averil posted brilliant photos of a reused altar and a carved lion's head. The altar, with no inscription but with odd geometric and snake-like carvings, was used as the base of a buttress supporting a room at the northern end of Site #5. (The location of the old Centurion's quarters from the 3rd Century; not sure what exactly this late buttressed building was.) The lion's head was made of the same soft sandstone used by the Stone Fort I (Antonine) builders for much of their carved work, and was found reused in a 3rd/4th Century wall.

Rosie also reports areas of burning showing up, as well as hunks of lead. Both suggest workrooms amid the early 2nd Century levels. Whatever was going on, this area would have represented the northeast quadrant of the various early 2nd Century forts. Up to now, almost nothing was known of this area of the early forts, so every spade that goes into the ground is revealing new information. Good stuff.
Offline Profile Goto Top
 
Go to Next Page
« Previous Topic · 2011 · Next Topic »
Locked Topic
  • Pages:
  • 1