Tuesday, Week 2


Tweet of the Day, up with the lark, early birds and worms…that was me this morning….up with those birds at 5.30am in order to join BBC Berkshire radio’s Suzanne Courtney – live from site from 7am onwards. I have to be completely honest here and say that when James Barr from the University of Reading Press Office rang me yesterday to ask if Mike and I would be willing to take part……my initial reaction was to say ‘No! I need that extra hour in bed…’. But….when I thought about it….it would be fun! We did this last year too, and Sooze Courtney is a great laugh, and  I do enjoy showing off the project. So – yes, James, of course, no problem!

It was the most beautiful of Hampshire mornings when I trundled down the droveway towards site, the sky softly blue and the early morning light lifting gently off the fields. It was so quiet. And as I turned into site I felt as though I was the only person alive. The 100 tents on site were softly slumbering – I could almost see the tent fabrics moving gently as their occupants slept through this early morning hour. One person appeared out of nowhere as I arrived: Jon, my site manager, and we started up the generator and boiled a coffee kettle. Over the next hour, as people gradually emerged from their tents and drifted towards the marquee and breakfast, Sooze did 6 ‘hits’ of our lives on site, talking about the archaeology, our Open Days, Jean’s cooking and student experiences on the Field School. It WAS great fun; Radio Berkshire is a great friend of the site and have visited us many times over the years.


Sooze, Aud, and the Radio Berkshire van

I had my few minutes worth on air – why do I always end up talking about the portaloos?! Then it was Mike’s turn.


Mike and the lovely Sooze talk excavation and discovery

Jean loves the radio, and is a natural on air! Of course there is lots to say….how many meals she makes for us each day, against all odds!


Jean’s turn

The radio van left at 10am and I was then able to turn my attention to my day’s work. News hot off the excavation press: we have found the end of our Iron Age hall! You may recall me saying in last year’s blog that we had the south-western end of our 1st century BC timber hall, but at c40m in length we still had no north-eastern end. Well, today Rachel and Kath found it! Just visible in the side of the pit they were excavating, a section through a linear foundation trench, filled with dark soil, appeared. This makes our hall c.50m in length and c8m in width – a giant of a building, and with no known parallels in the UK.


Kath (left) and Rachel point out their discovery

The day got ever hotter – it is really very exposed out on site – so regular shout-outs about hats, water and sun cream….

Today we had a celebrity on site: Matt Williams, former Time Team presenter. Matt was my Supervisor for 2 consecutive seasons back in 2004 – he is an integral part of the Silchester family – and the stuff of legend! So he is with us for 2 days, reliving his Silchester past and delivering a presentation on his Time Team days.


Matt talking in St. Mary’s church to an attentive audience


Recounting Time Team anecdotes

On returning to site I rejoined Mike who had spent the day leading tours for 31 Friends of English Heritage. By all accounts this was a most successful visit and enjoyed by all. Elsewhere Zoe and her Visitors’ team had hosted 3 different school visits. I always enjoy the sight of these groups of very well behaved children, brimming with excitement, as they are led between the different site activities.

So, by the end of a very hot day, we were all suitably exhausted – but pleased at a day well spent.

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