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Justin Blake's official Vindolanda excavation Twitter feed

Unless otherwise noted, all plans below are unofficial interpretations only.
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Week 16; 16 July - 20 July
Topic Started: Jul 15 2012, 07:11 PM (1,435 Views)
Justin-T
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Remarkably, given the persistent rain around breakfast, we managed to get a full day in. Some sprinkles threatened to get heavy enough to close us down, but they eventually cleared up.

Beth and Alex are leading a group of six of us in the North Field, everyone else in the vicus. Plan is to keep it that way this week and probably next, weather permitting. We're trying to firm up what's happening with some ditches in the southern half of the trench. The stone ditches found earlier are all thought to be Victorian. Everything in the northern half is probably modern, no further work in that half likely this year. Spent the day getting very muddy, having to periodically bale out as water slowly leaked in. The ditch has a very clear gray clay base with gravel above, will get a picture tomorrow. Not very rich in finds, even pottery was rare, although a fair amount of animal bone turned up. A few other non-pottery finds, but nothing out of the ordinary for Vindolanda.

Not much i can say about the work in the vicus, Justin's tweet gives more info than I know, but at least one new trench opened (or possibly expanded?) nearer the temple, hope to get a picture tomorrow. Will try to pick the brains of the vicus diggers when I get the chance as the week goes on.

Overall a very productive day, and everyone very pleased to get a full day in. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.
Edited by Justin-T, Jul 17 2012, 02:31 PM.
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Our weather luck held out another day, gorgeous sunshine until mid afternoon, then some cloud but no real rain. Rain hitting the Twicey windows now though and forecast for tomorrow questionable.

In the North Field we were fighting water seepage in my zone all day, for some reason much more so than yesterday. I ended the day pretty much covered in mud up to my waist, wellies essential! Got to the bluey-gray clay layer marking the base of the ditch across about half the trench. Same find pattern as yesterday, a little pottery, lots of cow bone/teeth. A few other finds but again nothing really dramatic. Big picture is that we have a very clear set of parallel ditches running more or less EW across the trench. Plan for tomorrow is to push the ditches across to the east side of the trench.

Picture 1 taken before we started work, with one clear ditch indicated by the yellow line, another ditch suspected just north of it (quickly proved true), a later drain curling down towards the ditch (capped at some later date, not clear when the drain dates from). red line is Victorian drain, everything in the trench north of that now thought to be natural (ie: non-Roman) features.

Picture 2 taken towards the end of the day today as Beth was taking her official pictures before the whole thing filled up with water again. Yellow lines indicate the side-by-side ditches, Beth is standing on a ridge of clay between the two major lines of it.

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Edited by Justin-T, Jul 17 2012, 02:29 PM.
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Rain overnight, thick low cloud producing a steady fine mist drizzle, but radar suggests it might clear up in an hour or two...
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Justin-T
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Rain stopped and visibility improved, but morning called off, meeting at 12:30 to see if the trenches have dried out enough to get the rest of the day in. Radar still seems to suggest several hours without rain, so I'm holding out hope we won't lose the whole day. B)

(@Badger: you were right, my laptop is showing Justinian and the badger again, looks like my iPad needs a restart...)
Edited by Justin-T, Jul 18 2012, 03:53 AM.
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Badger
Jul 18 2012, 09:42 AM
Justin-T glad you have recovered your identity. Is it Justinian or his father Justin, or some other dignified chap?

T.Wolter
Good question, its Justinian. I had been (until today) under the impression that my name was derived from Justinian. Apparently I have the wrong chap, his uncle is my namesake. Will have to do some digging to find a replacement image. His nephew seems to have been a good deal more famous so it didn't take long to find the image I've been using. Dang.
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Despite the fact that at 12:30 we were in bright sunshine the decision to call off for the day was not unexpected, and as NicC described, it cycled between sunshine and showers until about 4pm -- about 20 minutes of each at a time -- so it was the right call. Sounds better for Thursday & Friday.

I did partake of the Barcombe walk, and when it wasn't raining sideways in winds gusting to 30-40mph it was an enjoyable and interesting jaunt. One of the sunny spells coincided with our appearance at the top, so I got some nice shots of the classic fort view, Alex doing his thing, and the graffiti that Justin mentioned in his tweet (not for those of a nervous disposition). Oh, those naughty Romans.


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Justin-T
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Gorgeous day erupted from the slightly dodgy looking start, the stream near the Hedley, which normally passes under the road behind Codley Gate Farm, was going over the road deep enough that I had to be careful going thru it, so we clearly had a lot more rain overnight. However, after baling out we had a full day's digging.

In the North Field we were greeted with a swimming pool, trench full to the brim (impressive, given that its about two meters deep) and more significant collapse of the baulk beside the Victorian drain. However, by about 11 it was fully pumped and hand baled. Alex cleared most of the collapse and rigged up a fresh extension of the drain that worked beautifully.

Lesley and Alberto did yeoman's work cleaning out and finishing up the larger side of the ditch, Trudi and I extended the ditch out further east, where it appears it might be changing direction, or just fusing with the "main" ditch; hopefully tomorrow will reveal which. Ronan and Jane pushed an easterly segment down closer to the ditch level, a nice piece of pottery with a barely clad gentleman on it was among the finds there. All signs continuing to point to this being an early period ditch system.

The day was also spiced up by the presence of a BBC film crew, who spent well over an hour interviewing Alex while he stood in the trench. Fortunately they were fine with us continuing to work!

Picture 1 showing the new Olympic pool trench when we got there in the morning, note how the black pipe now leads to nowhere and was pouring new water in at a good clip.

Picture 2 at the end of the day, new gray pipe in place and ditches extending and exposed further. The section I had cleaned so carefully yesterday to be re-exposed later.
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Edited by Justin-T, Jul 19 2012, 03:03 PM.
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Pictures added to today's update. And its raining again.
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Not much to add to Nic's post, glorious sunshine much of the day, no midges in the n field; glad to have managed to get four full days in this week.

There was some more rain last night, but it only filled the North Field trench about a quarter full this time, so we only needed a thirty minute pump & bale out. The ditch became more clearly defined across most of the trench, with the southerly "side" of it followed up to what must be close to ground level when it was dug originally.

Nice thick clay layer was evident under the stones of the later curly (Roman) drain. The mass of silt and gravel in the main ditch was again largely find free, some large pieces of cow rib and vertebrae (tempting to speculate we found much of the carcass of the same cow, the major pieces were all found in the same approximate location...) and a little pottery. Elsewhere in the trench the finds seemed to be broadly similar.

Plan for next week is to push into the easterly side of the trench, wish I was there to help! Four of the six of us will be back, to be joined by four new recruits.

The end of a very satisfying week. Thanks to Beth and Alex, Jane & Ronan, Lesley, Trudi and Alberto.

The group photo for the NF; wide shot of the trench at the end of the week; closeup crop showing the layer of gray clay packed beneath the drain and the base blue-gray clay of the ditch:
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Edited by Justin-T, Jul 21 2012, 02:57 AM.
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