Monday,Tuesday and Wednesday of Week 2 have come and gone in a swirl of sunshine and showers. Today, Wednesday, we had hail. I was giving a site tour to a walking group and we had to take shelter for 10 minutes as spit-sized hail stones fell all around.
The AA signs have arrived! Directions to a Hampshire mudbath!
I don’t like to focus on the weather – but inevitably that has to be the focus. I spent many hours on Tuesday working out how we could get our portaloos emptied. This is no trivial speculation. If we cannot clean the portaloos, the excavation would have to close – great headline! I phoned the ever helpful David from Convenient Hire and within 20 minutes we had a strategy involving land rovers and static sewage tanks. Probably best not to dwell on this in too much detail! In addition, Nick West has lent us his tractor! Clearly there is a gene missing in me – although interested in the sight of this elderly piece of machinery, I could not quite muster the excitement shown by Nick, Jon and other males on the excavation.
I also bought in 4 loads of wood chips to lay down over the worst of the mud. It helped a little – but perhaps not quite enough. Certainly the chippings would not hold the weight of a vehicle. BUT the smell was wonderful – all campfires and rural idylls as opposed to dank, deep, soggy sewage smells, dredged up from the depths…..
But the best news is…..despite the wet, we are managing to excavate. The site is actually very workable, and the damp conditions mean that the archaeology is exceptionally visible. On the early Roman half of site, Sarah has excavated her early Roman building and we are trowelling for the underlying building. It is beginning to appear…clay floors and remnants of hearths are becoming visible. Natalie’s building has yet more surprises: instead of yielding a simple clay floor to be peeled away, work today revealed what must be the superstructure of an oven like feature. The curve of the yellow clay making up this feature is beautiful. Working out the sequence of floors to go with this feature is a challenge Natalie and her team relish.
In Rob and Matt’s central area, excavation is proceeding at speed. Clay floors are being both revealed and excavated – as are linear beam slots. We hope that by the end of this week, plans of early Roman timber buildings will have been revealed. Will we find our ‘military’ occupation……are there barrack blocks buried?
In the north-east corner Emily has a master class in mattocking proceeding apace. Spreads of dark silts and gravels need investigation to understand the late Iron Age and early roman occupation in this area.
On the Iron Age western half, the teams have been working hard to reveal features below the garden soil and cut into natural. It is hard work – but rewarding. For me, the best part of the last 3 days has been the fact that we have managed to get our entire team of 100+ onto the excavation, come rain or shine – mostly rain and not a lot of shine. That is progress indeed.
And look what missed us! the most amazing thunderstorm…..we were in it’s eye. Wonderful cloud formations.