So this week we have finally gotten the opportunity to begin the excavation of our new 3 metre section of trench, which we deturfed last week. We started the week by digging out the first layer of topsoil, which is referred to in archaeology as the first layer of stratum. The term stratum is the singular form of the word strata which refers to each individual layer of soil type as you dig down through the earth. Each new layer is characterized by its composition and is described by the colour and contents of the soil. Each new layer must be recorded, and it is important in determining which period of occupation each new layer of stratum corresponds to. After removing the first layer of topsoil we found a new layer of clay and sandstone, which needed to be excavated to see if there were any artefacts dating to Roman occupation. After finding a few small finds, including a piece of “black shiny stuff” (which may be a material called jet, but needs to be tested before it can be labeled as such), and a piece of lead slag along with some pottery sherds, we began excavation into deeper layers hoping to find more.
My job for most of this week has been to explore a section of the trench which was thought to perhaps contain a larger section of clay tiles, which were uncovered last year in a much lower section of the already dug trench. In order to reach this layer and perhaps uncover more of the tile, I was required to dig about two feet down into the next layer of stratum. After a few hours of clearing away clay and sandstone carefully, while at the same time sifting the dirt for artefacts, I had reached what we hoped to be a new layer of these clay tiles. Now that I was closer to the surface of what we hoped were the tiles, I put down my spade and picked up a trowel to do a bit of fine digging.
Unfortunately, after uncovering an area that we had hoped to contain these tiles, we were disappointed to find out that they abruptly ended just an inch into the new section I had dug. But today proved a more fruitful day, and after digging further to the north of our trench on the same level of the clay tiles, I managed to uncover a rubble course of sandstone, a main building material of the Romans. This may be a wall of some kind, but due to weather restrictions we could not fully uncover this rubble course. Hopefully tomorrow will prove to be a better day, and we will able to explore this rubble course further, but it does look promising. I will post some more pictures tomorrow with our findings!