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Week 6
Topic Started: May 8 2011, 10:33 AM (2,372 Views)
SacoHarry
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Can't believe at long last I'm finally back over, ready to get trowel to soil. I took a quick walk around the site today, and it (and the museum) are as amazing as everyone says. The archaeology is superb, and the museum is world-class! The thought that went into not just showing the objects, but telling the story of the people through those objects, is fantastic! The coin room is brilliant, the skeleton poignant, the revamp of Prof. Eric Birley's office with family photographs really inspired. The leather tentage, wall of shoes, laboratory setups -- it all rocks.

So, on to Week 6! It seems that the alleyway (the new "Site #4" on the weekly progression) will still be the focus. Below is a picture I snapped today showing the alley still surviving in the background, and excavated away to reach the Severan roundhouse level in the foreground.

Posted Image

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(roundhouse in orange, alleyway in blue)

Looks to be a great week!
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Badger
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By the way, Harry, those two roundhouses were made of rather soft crumbly stone. When excavated the curvature was incorrectly exaggerated. When you are past the fences tomorrow compare them to other excavated examples that show a much broader curve.

Those tight little roundhouses would be little more than igloos if that were their true radius!

Tim W.
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SacoHarry
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Ahh, so more something like this then?
Posted Image

Pitfall #32 of archaeology: inadverntently creating features from nothing!
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Badger
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I shall leave the major features to Harry, who seems by nature better equipped to graph them out. Unlike me he seems to have invariably colored within the lines back in elementary school. No, the small and the odd seem more my province.

Several small bronze items up today, most rather corroded. Also lots of tile, some marked and a Samian stamp.

Here are a couple of pics. First the in-floor amphora mentioned a few days back. Was it indeed the loo or a variation on the storage pit concept? Personally with all the pots about I would have found a more portable, easy to clean option.

Second pic is of a roll of stuff seemingly used to protect backfilled sites. But what a grand product name!

Cheers!

T.Wolter
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SacoHarry
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What a great start to the week! The team is working up and down the area shown as Site #4, with two focuses: (1) removing the cobbled 3rd-4th century alleyway to reveal 2nd Century (Antonine) bits underneath; and (2) defining the Antonine roadway underneath that's already mostly exposed. Tricky work, as the ground is subsiding into two wide, early ditches. One runs north-south under the 3rd-4th C barrack just to the east of the 3rd-4th C alley. The other seems to be running east-west at the northern edge of the alley. The ditches & subsidence are noticeable on-site, but not as severe as in other parts of the fort in other years. Still, a tantalizing mystery -- they're hoping to have some answers by year's end! The first attachment is from the northern bit of the alley looking south.

Good finds from our section today. I and another veteran are "buddies" to three novice diggers: two Uni students from Canada, and a high-school senior from Michigan who chose to dig at Vindolanda as her end-of-year project. We were tasked with pulling down the sad remains of a 4th C house and underlying 3rd C drain in the northeast area of Site #4, and then digging down to the Antonine cobbled road. It's going really fast and we've already knocked out a big, honking section of the the old baulk. Which has been chock-a-block with old samian, cooking ware, glass, cobbling, nails, iron, even a grotty old bit of enameled copper -- whatever the late Romans could find to level things up! It's a great lot and we had a lot of fun today. The second picture is a sampling of the kinds of stuff we've found. There's also been some chunks of animal bone and many pieces of roof tiles, both flat and curved. Also, we found a chunk of box flue -- the kind of hollow tile "pipe" that carried hypocaust smoke up the side of a centurion's quarters and out the roof. Good living, that.

Looking forward to ibuprofen, fish & chips, quiz night, and a good day tomorrow.
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SacoHarry
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Another good day of digging. A few morning drizzles but not enough to run us off. The whole of Site #4 is being worked, with the 3rd-4th C alley slowly being excavated away from both sides. (Making the barrow run a bit tricky for those still using the road!) Our group has come down to Antonine surfaces, but they churned up in the middle. Good drains & cobbling at south bit, fair at north, but robbed out and replaced with a mass of boulders in the middle. Nice pottery coming up, and good small finds. I pulled out a pottery stamp they'd not seen before - a checkerboard pattern. A codigger found a copper belt strapend, and elsewhere there came up the bowl of a small bronze spoon. Pictures to follow once the Twicey sorts out its wifi... again.
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SacoHarry
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WiFi sorted -- for the moment. Pictures as promised.

1st, the strange checkerboard pottery stamp
2nd, view of the narrowing cobbled 3rd-4th C alleyway from the north looking south
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SacoHarry
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Two more pictures:

1st, a few of the nicer bits of pottery that have come up -- a jug handle, a mortaria rim, and two big chunks of decorated samian
2nd, closeup of one piece of samian apparently showing a scene from the long-lost play "The Warrior and the Bunny"
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Badger
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Harry neglects to mention a notable event. Last night at Twicey Quiz one of the Vindolanda teams was able to secure third prize, a dime store fake budgie. (Only, it must be noted, by trading the second prize, a bottle of red wine).

Clearly we needed something to attach to the photographic marker stick used to record small finds and features.

In the first image our own Saco Harry proudly holds high the standard of Legio I Budgiecum after finding a nifty mortaria stamp.

Second image is a close up of the standard. The budgie is now safely packed for Harry to take home to his bird loving daughter.

T. Wolter
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SacoHarry
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I want to thank you kindly for posting that picture of me. I would've gladly paid the £12 ransom instead. That said, it was -very- awesome of the Vindolanda team to bequeath this to this Pub Quiz traitor. Ruby will love it, especially when she sees a picture of it proudly atop the ranging pole!
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Badger
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The overall emphasis of week six continues to be the north south road dubbed “Temple Street”. Ongoing excavations of either side are bringing up the usual small finds. And the road proper is being nibbled into as seen in the first photo.

Under this Caracallan road, at an apparent Severan level, is this odd structure plunked atop the Antonine road surface and extending under the later road.

Justin’s twitter remark is spot on….nobody has any notion as to what it might be.

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katesf
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Just to say thank you guys for the great update. I am also excavating in this area this week. It is heavy going at times but we are all enjoying the week so much, despite showers halting things for a short while today. The mysterious feature looks like a flue, but a flue to a giant oven? Who knows? Only time will tell after the rest of it has been excavated.
Pot--washing this afternoon revealed a graffito on BB ware and another mortarium stamp!

Kate
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Badger
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Cheers Kate
As I have mentioned in previous posts, my blog for non archeologists is at http://detritusofempire.blogspot.com/ It does feature the smiling faces and finished efforts of potwashers today.

T.Wolter
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SacoHarry
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Good day up in the northern bit of "Temple Street." (Or what's left of it -- primo picture, Badger!) Our crew had mandatory pot-washing duty in the morning. Which coincided nicely with the AM rain shower! Our archaeology is behaving badly though, which is kind of fun. There -should- be a nice north-south Antonine (2nd C) drain with cobbled roadway on the east and cobbled barrack veranda/porch to the west. Instead, in the middle of our bit the drain is robbed out and replaced with an ever-growing section of flagstones. At the northern edge of the flags, just as they turn back into cobbles, there's a large area of burning. Really blackened, sooty bits. So what are the flags doing there? Maybe propping up a subsided bit? Maybe a floor surface and an oven? Probably none of the above. Hope to find more tomorrow.

Also, ended the day with a -great- guided walk up Barcombe Hill, led by WeDig's own Mike McGuire. Mike is a geologist working with Vindolanda to learn the source of the stonework used in the forts. And a great storyteller. Thx for the walk & talk Mike! If you've never gone up the hill, do it. The views can't be beat. And the quarries are a sight.

A picture or two of the trench to follow, with luck.
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SacoHarry
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As promised.

Pic #1: A batch of the pottery we washed today, uncovered by diggers two or three weeks ago. A pretty good sampling of the kinds of stuff coming up. Really wide range, and lots of beautiful bits tossed into backfill by the Romans.

Pic #2: Rim of a mortarium, with maker's stamp "SENN." WeDig'er Kate says it's from a British potter named Sennius who worked in the late 2nd C. Only the 3rd Sennius mortarium to show up at Vindolanda! I found it in the fill that built up "Temple Street."

Pic #3: A Badger sighting.

Pic #4: From up on Barcombe Hill, a skylark nest hidden in the bracken on the ground. Spotted by a Hill walker with better eyes than mine!

Pic #5: Also on Barcombe, looking southeast across Thorngrafton Common to the South Tyne valley beyond. Sun peeking through clouds illuminating distant field.
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