And so it is finally here – Saturday August 10th 2013 – our final day of digging for this season. I cannot lie…..I am ready for it! It has been 8 weeks since I arrived on site all the way back in June. 8 weeks of getting up at 5.30am, 8 weeks of getting home 12 hours later and falling into bed. 8 weeks of weather, 8 weeks of excitement, 8 weeks of routine, 8 weeks of interaction……None of us are superhuman, and a project this size reduces us all – eventually – to mere mortals!
Most of my senior staff are away today at a wedding – congratulations Lucy and Pete! Lucy and Pete both worked at Silchester – first as undergraduates, then as members of staff – and they met here, on site. A true Silchester romance – which makes their nuptial timing unfortunate for us! However, the areas are all in safe hands as each Supervisor has designated an Assistant to wrap up the archaeology and to carry out all final recording needed.
It is a busy day for Mike and I – many visitors arrive to see the dig in its final phase, and we are kept fit rushing from group to group as the day passes.
As is traditional on the final day, Mike gives a last site tour to us all. Diet coke in hand he took us through the last 6 weeks, outlining achievements and progress. The sun shone as he did so, and the skylarks dived in and out of the trench. Mark Houshold’s kites flew above us all day, recording our latest archaeology.
Mike began his tour with Insula III – this has been quite a voyage for us all, and none more so than for Supervisor Jeni. Our understanding of Victorian excavation methodology has been added to over the past 6 weeks – and we are gradually revealing the buildings that lie within this southern quarter of Insula III. Although we have identified some of the walls the Victorians recorded on the Great Plan, we have not, as yet, found a bath house! But we end the season with many discoveries made – and many more obviously to come next year. We can’t wait!
Mike spent the last half an hour on Insula IX, reliving the gradual exposure of the Iron Age archaeology – most of the trench is now down to the natural geology, and any excavation left will reveal the Iron Age occupation. The largest pocket of Iron Age to Roman archaeology is the area where Natalie and then Nick have been working. But all that is left to do is to remove what looks like an expanse of cultivated soil, down onto the level associated with the Iron Age hall – and this we can easily do next season. As Mike concludes his tour and thanks everyone for all of their hard work, I finally realise that in 2014 I will complete the archaeology of Insula IX – after 18 years of excavation. It does bring a lump to my throat!