So the majority of my last two weeks in the North Field at Vindolanda have been spent working on what we hope will turn out to be a large flue of a firing kiln. Andrew Birley, the Director of Excavations for the Vindolanda Trust, was visiting our trench last week, as he does almost every day, to check in on our progress. He took a long look at a section of our north extension and after viewing the layout of a number of large stones, and the small firing oven found last year, thought that there may be a flue of a larger kiln heading further to the north. I was given the task of excavating this section and it has been amazing so far. The archaeology has been extremely interesting, and the finds I have made in the last week and a half have been excellent indicators that this is in fact a flue for a kiln.
I started by excavating what was thought to be the mouth of the kiln, which opens up to a much larger ash pit that was excavated last year. The mouth of the “flue” contained large amounts of ash, as well as large sandstone blocks, which are typical of Roman construction techniques. These blocks were part of a large stone wall on the eastern side of the flue (as you can see in the picture above). This sandstone block wall runs 4 courses deep and is made of finely cut rectangular stones, providing a sturdy support wall. Not only was the mouth of the pit found to contain large amounts of ash, but the stones that make up this large wall are burnt black in a number of locations suggesting that there were extreme amounts of burning and heat in this area. Along with the large burnt material, and the charred stones, pieces of sandstone that were completely burnt through were found within this course along with a number of large chunks of clay tile. I have yet to fully uncover this feature, but hopefully by the end of the week I will have more to report.