A sea change…despite the mud, the constant, creeping, dripping, the sheer hard work of getting around the edge of the trench…we have proved it is possible to dig in this summer of ours. So, despite a few sore heads (there was a party in the marquee last night, a very necessary outlet at this damp time!), the excavation put its collective (sore) head down – and got on with it!
On the western, Iron Age half of site, Hen, Matt Lees and Sarah Lucas are investigating the internal area of the Iron Age town. Large swathes of ‘garden’ soil are being trowelled clean with the aim of sinking archaeological slots through them and down to the natural geology, exposing Iron Age pits and features on the way. This damp weather helps us spot the darker areas of cut features – and is much easier on the hands! Matt is exposing large areas of intercutting pits, while Sarah’s area found an entire pot buried upright at the edge of the late 1st century AD round house excavated here 3 seasons ago. Jane was the lucky student to uncover this (and to be photographed in action by the local press). The excavated pot has been identified by the Prof as fine Silchester ware, and it had a large, deliberately cut hole in its base – a ritual act of ‘killing’ the pot.
In Hen’s area a new building is emerging: blobs of bright orange clay amongst the darker silts, denoting the remains of a clay floor. Its nature and extent is yet to be determined. Is it the floor of the large rectangular building part uncovered last season, and of Iron Age date?
On the early Roman eastern half of the trench, Rich, James and Benedikt are heroically pumping water out of a complicated area of intercutting wells. We aim to identify the latest well in this sequence and excavate it before the season is out.
Elsewhere in this eastern half, Natalie, Sarah Henley, Rob, Matt Gittins and Emily are working hard to preserve the fragility of their early Roman buildings. Clay floors suffer in this wet weather – but also look beautiful! Ideal teaching conditions. And as the day ended I felt for the first time this season that we were finally making archaeological progress.