Week 3: Monday 16th July

I have to be honest – these last 4 days have been some of the most challenging of my Silchester Insula IX career. And it is all weather related. We started the week with high hopes and over 40 newcomers. I did my best to enthuse in the marquee at 9am Monday morning, but the sound of the rain on the marquee walls told its own tale. Everyone listening to my introductory session was also listening to the sound of one of the wettest summers on record. Heading out onto site for a site tour was quite a low point! We waded through calf high grey mud with the consistency of whipped cream (which makes it sound rather enticing – it wasn’t!) and gathered on the walkways overlooking the excavation. Down on site were the team, swathed in waterproofs and water, doing their very very best in appalling conditions. We all kept going……the newcomers were talked to, enthused at and given trowels…..whilst everyone else placed shovelfuls of wet mud into buckets. By lunchtime we faced the inevitable: our digging day was over. I looked into the possibility of showing ‘Gladiator’ in St. Mary’s church but unfortunately the conservators working on the church fabric had also been driven inside by the rain – and had put up scaffolding in the lecture area of the church. It was not to be! Professor John Allen took a small group to look at the geology of the Roman wall, and we caught up with finds washing and environmental sieving and sorting. So I declared the remainder of the afternoon a ‘free’ afternoon and the staff retired to work on paperwork and records. Not to put too fine a point on it…it was a miserable day!

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