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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.

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week five daily reports
Topic Started: May 2 2011, 01:27 AM (883 Views)
Badger
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Taking advantage of the Twice Brewed new wireless connection-which I must say works surprisingly well in a 250 year old building made from purloined 1800 year old stone-I will be trying for daily updates and pix of week five. Probably week six also unless the technically more adept Saco Harry shoulders me aside.

stay tuned.

Tim Wolter
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Spectacular weather. It is odd to see our fearless leader Andrew with a tan instead of the pallid Northumbrian complection more usual this time of year.

The group has been split up into several contingents. Area 2, the source of much activity last week, is mostly fallow, just a couple of folks working in the barracks closer to the HQ building. Various teams working west and northwest of Area 2, the aim being to extend the next barracks to the west to similar levels before dipping down into those tempting putative trenches.

As such finds are mostly 4th cent., with some of us actually scraping away at post roman floor surfaces.

No major finds today, best we did in our Dark Agers hut was the pin from a brooch. Out of, as he put it, pity Andrew gave it a small finds bag.

A new feature this year is a brief site into and Health and Safety chat by Kevin in a languege close enough to English to be partially understood. Then Patricia Birley took us through the new museum. Many admonitions to not wipe or otherwise molest any finds. An important message, but one of little immediate applicability to me, as I then spent several hours bouncing rocks into and out of my wheelbarrow.

They actually like a certain degree of abuse after you have checked for inscriptions...

Tim Wolter
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Here is an example of serious settling into the presumptive underlying ditch.

T.Wolter
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Another fine day for digging at Vindolanda. Finds a bit spotty as later levels are cleared and the Antonine era awaits.

Rather than try to give daily overview pictures--the site does not change that quickly--I will try to fill in a few fine details.

I turned over a rock today and saw....the ghost image of a spear head! The actual artifact could not be saved, but its memory lives on.

My second picture takes a bit of study. Examine the right side of the picture. At the extreme right edge is the barracks block east of the via praetoria. The huge flags of the road should be easily apparent. Note the roughly curved, incomplete line of stones extending out onto the via praetoria.

There were a lot of jumbled stones found on the road, clearly post roman. But most were just random scatter. But these rather substantial stones look as if they are trying to be a curved apse....and from a very large structure.

If a church it would have been a whopper.

Of course at Vindo other oddities have been found including a workshop with a similar apsidal shape. Or maybe it is just random scatter, where the mind attempts to make order from chaos.

More mysteries, more mysteries.

Tim Wolter

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The blog to which Beverly refers, I assume, is at http://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/ This is my personal blog, directed more to non archeology types so a bit more general. Also it features dogs in silly costumes with some regularity.

Tim Wolter
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Week five, day three.

In one sense the day was rather frustrating. Not much for finds of interest, although one barracks room did have half a wheelbarrow full of amphora shards, and I heard that a couple of beads turned up. But for most of us it was the pursuit of features----looking for walls that were not where they should be.

But the digging conditions, well I guess they could be improved upon but only if winged dryads turned up in diaphenous togas and offered us pints of ale! 60 degrees (F), with bright sun and pleasant zephrys.

In my effort to show the less obvious side of the dig site I offer a couple of pix.

The first is the vicus, Justin's Area B. It is sleeping peacefully, the surface seeded for grass that has not sprouted yet due to the dry weather. As to the features suggested on the surface it is your guess as to whether they represent the second century late structures or just where Justin thought a few stones would be nice aesthetically!

The second picture shows what to me is a new innovation. All small finds are now recorded by Andrew taking a site picture of you holding this striped pole on the exact find spot. Given the unproductive day we had today I did have to fake the victorious demenour!

Tim Wolter


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More pursuit of walls and drains, some of which continue to be elusive.

A brooch turned up today, and the mass of amphorae fragments remains impressive. What happened there?

Walking by the spoils heap this morning I noticed a white balloon fluttering on the mound. It was from a furniture store grand opening! Amazing how later material can find is way almost anywhere. Out of curiosity I surveyed the pile looking for other extraneous modern stuff. All I noted were a few chips of green paint-I have been tough on the wheelbarrows this week and it does chip the paint-and a pen that Kevin was looking for earlier in the week.

Tim Wolter
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Week Five--Big Picture

A week of fine weather and periodic small finds, but mostly clearing and defining features. Almost all the work has been on either side of the north-south road leading to the temple. In fact, some interesting arch work suggests that this street and the barracks on either side may have had some special significance as a set apart zone.

Andy has applied the name Temple Street to the road.

Here are two views of the excavations to either side of Temple Street..

The first is a view of the entire stretch from south to north.
The second shows work on the east side of it, with the expected Stone Fort I road at the usual offset. Note the nice Antonine drain where the road slopes abruptly.

There is some speculation that Temple Street may be coming out soon, it appears to be Caracallan vintage, so I thought it important to capture it while I could.

T.Wolter
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Week five--Small Picture

I like to wander about the site looking at small details. Here are a couple of floor repairs/improvements in recently excavated Antonine barracks.

The first picture shows a round structure used for floor repair. No, not a column base, just a stone pot lid. I personally find it surprising that such a thick, irregular lid would be a decent fit for a delicate pot rim, but perhaps they were for more robust storage jars.

The second image shows amphora shards packed into a low spot. From an engineering standpoint this seems a reasonable approach.


T.Wolter

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Week five--Small picture part two

The first image is of several flat stones placed vertically into the Antonine floor. This was felt to define a storage space. This, and all such previous features, was empty when exavated. The second image is of a previously excavated example in a somewhat later barracks block.

I did not get a picture of it, but the indomitable Anthea came up with another barracks floor feature late in the day on Friday, an amphora set into an Antonine barracks floor. This was presumably the loo, at least for late night/foul weather use.

T.Wolter
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Week Five--The odd picture

Smack in the middle of the Antonine road is a gigantic, irregular boulder. It could serve no useful purpose that any of us could imagine. Why it was hauled with no small effort into the fort and dropped in the middle of things makes no sense. It is not as if it got pushed around by later plowing, not with that size and at that depth. The team working on it dubbed it "the monster" and seem to have developed some mixture of affection and loathing for it. A vamping pose by a day five digger......

As to the second image, well, what can I say. Pete found a slab of stone that he first felt was a perfect relief map of the African continent. Then on reflection, perhaps recalling that the Romans did not know the topography of anything but the northern third, he came up with an alternative interpretation of the artifact.

I present Petrus Africanus, exotic dancer.

T.Wolter
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