Woeful Wednesday

Ok – this was my dilemma. The forecast screamed HIGH temperatures, heat stroke warnings…..do I believe the forecasters and change the working hours? Or….or…? So, I decided to put my trust in the great British weather team….and announced a longer lunch break, and an early finish at 4.30pm. And what happens? By lunchtime the skies have clouded over….still hot though…..but I stick to my guns. Never prevaricate publicly in management! We pack up at 4.30pm – and by then a deliciously cool breeze has wafted in, the clouds have obscured the shimmering sun….and it is a really lovely evening. Perfect digging weather in fact. You win some, you lose some. And of course what else happens? Professor Mike decides that he will call in at 5pm on his way back from London meetings….to be greeted by a completely empty trench, a cool breeze and a sheepish Assistant Director. His first words were ‘Where is everyone…??’

However…we DID have a really productive day (up to 4.30pm that is….).

Huge progress is being made in Nick’s area in Insula IX where we are investigating what looks like the earliest pit or well in a sequence of pits and wells running right up to the 3rd century AD, all dug in the same location, one on top of another. Great continuity of use. A tag team of Ceri and Caitlin started the digging here; Caitlin was then replaced with Assistant Supervisor Matt Cano…and the team was then completed with the addition of our Time Team celebrity, Matt Williams. Matt W was keen to show us that he still has ‘it’….and this area was in fact his area way back in 2004. A trip down memory lane for him….

First up: Ceri supervising Matt Cano. Let’s hear it for the Silchester Girls!


Call that a full shovel Matt?


Next, Ceri shows Matt how it is done:

004Matt’s muscles reminisce….


And, finally the pit is dug and the team pose for a task well done!


Matt Bookends: Matt Cano (left), Ceri and Matt Williams

We had another school visit in the morning, followed by a quick tour for the Silchester Village panel. Next up was the University of Reading’s International Summer School: 8 participants, from all over the world, visited us with Bruce Howells, Programme Director. We did a tour of Insula IX and Insula III and I then handed them over to Elise and Cindy to show them our finds and scientific techniques respectively.

A visit to the Science Hut reveals trays and trays of sample residues ready to be sorted through….


And the Silchester Science dragon, won in last night’s Silchester Marquee Quiz:


Even Dragons drink Diet Coke

My next visitor was Alice Mauchline, a Research Officer with the Biodiversity Crops & Agro Eco-Systems in the School of Agriculture Policy & Development at the University of Reading. Alice had received a set of iPad minis from the University of Reading Annual Fund, to support the use of technology in fieldwork – and I have booked 8 of them to use at Silchester. My main aim is to put our bespoke database onto the iPads as an app which will allow us to enter data in the field and without wifi. Once we are off site and in the kabins where we are connected up, we can upload the field data onto our database on the University server. Mike Rains has developed this app, which will allow us to enter context cards, plans, photographs, finds and sample information etc. If successful this could potentially do away with double handling of data and save time in post excavation.

I have given an iPad to each Supervisor, and one to Dan as Planning Manager, one to Zoe as Visitor Manager and one to Elise as Finds Manager. Jen, my Database Manager is monitoring each group to see how they use the iPads. So far we have had some success with database entry – and I will report on this over the weeks – but we are also finding the iPads useful for photographs for our social media platforms – especially Instagram. Alice came out to see the site and to talk generally about our use of the iPads – and she also brought out an iPad with a microscope attached – which Cindy and Lisa Lodwick have had a look at. We are certain we can find a use for it…beginning with a look at a fish bone, probably salmon!

Salmon bone viewed microscopically!

Salmon bone viewed microscopically!



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