I thought I’d begin with:
One of our favourite topics of conversation is: the weather. Not because we are British…..but because we are field archaeologists. And….it is all about the footwear.
Today was a GOOD day! Everyone was on site smiling, after a good night’s sleep….some after too good a night’s sleep following on from last evening’s festivities…….
After the madness that was yesterday, everybody today settled into their new areas, their new roles,their new tasks. I had a little bit of a breather and was able to visit all my staff in their respective areas of responsibility, see how they were doing, and find out if we were missing any vital pieces of equipment.
First up today was a visit from the Cedar’s School from Aldermaston. 52 children aged 4 years to 11 years – enough to strike fear into the heart of any undergraduate! Zoe, my Visitor Manager, did an inspired job, wandering amongst the schoolchildren, clipboard in hand, like an exotic tropical bird. I have such stylish team members!
The Visitors’ team deserves special praise here, not just Will, who as 2nd Year Visitor Placement did us all proud by delivering a series of absorbing site tours to the small people, but all the student volunteers who stepped up to the mark and ran a fantastic programme of worksheets, Roman Word puzzles, dig pit exercises – and general all round educational entertainment. One of my favourite sights was student Philippe being quizzed by some very small, very determined 5 year olds about his age and marital status.
Other things archaeologists talk about: food! Witness our lunch queue!
After lunch I ran a session on excavation recording and post excavation skills with a small group of people in St. Mary’s Church, followed by a visit to the churchyard to see how our Geophysics Technician Dave Thornley was doing with his Ground Penetrating Radar Survey of the churchyard. Beneath the peaceful graves lies the full extent of the Roman Town, and we hope to find evidence of the Roman temples known to be here from the Victorian plan.
This afternoon I actually found time for a trip round the archaeology…with Mike in tow!
In Insula IX we are cleaning the area, ready to begin excavation. This is excellent training for our new students: using a trowel correctly is the key to becoming a talented field archaeologist. ‘Cleaning’ an area well allows decisions to be made about order of excavation.
In Sarah and Su’s area, also in Insula IX, we are cleaning the front (south) section. This vertical section contains the story of the site from latest to earliest: a visual record of our entire 18 year campaign! Sarah and Su’s team are doing an amazing job – cleaning the archaeology until it sparkles – and highlighting the fantastic sequence of buildings here.
Earlier in the day we welcomed our first ‘tour’ of the season – Mike gave a site tour and walk round the walls to the Human Resources team from the university – and the rain stayed away!
Insula 3 is looking extremely exciting. Hen is beginning to identify and excavate the Victorian intrusions into the supposed bath house. All kinds of features are showing up: tiled Roman surfaces at depth, clay floors lying one on top of the other, spreads of mortar….all exciting Roman archaeology, presumably seen but not understood by the Victorians. It is very different archaeology from that in Insula IX; plenty of Roman finds, and a challenge to distinguish the differing types and dates of the deposits. Victorian? Or Roman? Whatever was in Insula 3, it was definitely substantial…watch this space.
And how does the day end? With rain of course – rain so heavy we had to abandon site 40 minutes early.
See you all tomorrow! Amanda Over-and-Out.