Hello everyone! It’s Beth here, chiming in for the first time in the 2014 season. I’m so excited to be back here in Northumberland, especially because the weather has been terrific so far! We’ve got a team that is so ready to get to work, it’s amazing. But of course, there are some necessary things that need doing in preparation for full-on work, and it’s all part of the archaeological process!
Today after our Latin lesson at the Roman Army Museum we headed over to the site to start prepping the trench. Those of you who have followed the blog for a few years will recognize the pictures from our trench–we’re finishing the same area we began last year, just with some slightly expanded borders on two sides. Now, anyone who has spent any time up here in Northumberland (or in Canada for that matter) in the winter will understand exactly what an open trench will look like after 9 months of being beaten by wind, rain, sleet, snow and probably the odd cow and sheep sneaking under the fence. It looks a right mess! We could hardly see the trench edge for the forest of tall grass that had grown up around it…which leads me to our first task…
We began work today by removing all the fencing around the trench and watching our groundsman, Chris Burns, cut the grass with his industrial size piece of machinery (not photographed, unfortunately). It was like wading through a cut hayfield at that point, and we didn’t want the grass to blow into our trench and disturb our stratigraphy all summer, so we spent the next hour cleaning it up. Now, though an archaeological site has lots of weird and wonderful tools, a rake is not usually one of them! So, we got a lower body workout by kicking the grass into piles and then picked it up with our hands. You’d be amazed what 11 people can accomplish when working toward the same goal. It was a real bonding experience!
We’ll be on site all day tomorrow, so we’ll check in again with our progress. We hope to get the whole trench weeded, troweled back and looking like an archaeological site again by tomorrow at 4:15pm. Wish us luck!