Today I arrived on site at 7.30am in order to meet and greet the cherrypicker ordered by the BBC for a day’s filming with the excavation for Digging for Britain with Alice Roberts. Great excitement all round…..best bibs and tuckers on site as we faced the cameras. It turned out to be a great day – there was very little disruption to the excavation, and the crew were professional and aware (apart from Natalie’s clay floor which suffered from the cameraman’s boots…..sorry Nat!). Alice was charming – easy to work with, fun and interested in what we were doing. The day began with filming from the cherrypicker as Mike introduced Alice and viewers to the trench and the archaeological story.
This was then followed up by a close-up in the trench as I led Alice onto the excavation and pointed out the layout of the Iron Age town. We were emphasising the hybrid nature of the town…..typical Iron Age features, the ‘diagonal’ layout of the streets to the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset, mixed in with the Roman north-south grid; native round houses and a rectangular Roman-looking building. Alice and I perched on the side of the well, now dated to Ad40 to 60, and we looked at a selection of finds: local Silchester ware, rough and ready for drinking beer, mixed with fine Italian imports: samian ware drinking cups and terra nigra platters from north-east France for wine drinking and fine dining. Calleva’s local inhabitants took the best of Rome and mixed it with their own native culture.
The afternoon was spent filming with Mike in the trench, teasing out the early Roman story….the tantalising evidence for a military occupation and the possibility of a destruction layer attributable to Boudicca. The final piece of the afternoon was Lisa showing Alice the sieving process and describing the evidence of exotic imports her PhD work is producing – evidence of celery, dill and coriander from late Iron Age wells on site. She has also found preserved animal bedding, dung and hay from Trapper’s late Iron Age well, excavated a few seasons ago.
It was a good day – the rain held off, and a glass of wine with the SagaLouts was most welcome at close of play!