Okay, so in our absence we got a great deal of excavation done and the trench is coming along beautifully. We also got a fancy new ladder to get good perspective on the trench for photography. Here’s a great picture of Alex at the top and Robin holding it down just to be sure (it promises to be sturdy on its own, I swear).
Alex posted a picture earlier with all sorts of ‘features’ (aka, blobs of different colored dirt). We’ve been clearing those out from latest to earliest, taking out the fill of ditches and pits and uncovering the parameters of an oven. Nikki and Mary are working in the ditch on the right of the overhead shot running east to west. They’ve been working through a shocking amount of silt that built up through natural processes, probably during abandonment, inside the defensive ditch system. It’s what is known as a ‘v-notch’ ditch because it’s shaped like a big ‘V’ with very steep sides. Here they are taking a moment to marvel at their progress.
There’s a really large Victorian drain, well built with stone and clay, running directly through our trench, curving and cutting out some Roman features. These tend not to be too deep, so they don’t intrude too much on the Roman remains, but confuse reading features on the surface a little bit. Underneath this a rather large pit (that dark blob in the center of the trench on either side of the long curved line of the Victorian drain) has been cleared out by Rohanna and Stephanie. Almost as if I planned it, Stephanie immediately got to excavate animal remains, including a full set of shining cow’s teeth! Meanwhile, Rohana filled a whole pottery tray (we’ll show you one of those soon) in about 20 minutes. Unbelievable!
Everyone learned a few things this week about archaeological data collection and recording. Yesterday we took environmental samples of burnt patches around the excavations. We sampled 4 liters (the standard amount needed for a good sample) and learned how to properly tag the sample with information about context numbers and percent of the context sampled. Rob and Meagan have been clearing a feature that is the remnants of an oven and is full of ash deposits around the area that (probably) cooking took place. We also learned how to take archaeological photography–you can see the results below photographing the oven feature.
So, after only a week, but one full of sun and warmth, we’ve reached about the same stage of progress as about week 4 of last year. We actually might finish this trench! We’ll take the day on Saturday to see more of Hadrian’s Wall from Cawfields Milecastle to Housesteads Fort. We’ll make another map and show you the route and put up tons of amazing photos! See you soon!