The Kiln Lives!!

Hey everyone,

So I know its been a little while since my last post, things have been extremely busy in the trench. I have some great news about the status of my feature that I have been working on for a month now. I can’t believe that a month has gone by already since I started working on the flue. So I know in my last post I stated that what I had originally thought to be a flue leading to a larger kiln turned out to be some kind of work station, I now know that this is not the case, and it is in fact a kiln for firing pottery and tile. In cases of large scale archaeology projects such as this, hypotheses may change from time to time as the excavation uncovers more and more of the feature. After uncovering the turn in the wall heading to the west, and then uncovering its 90 degree turn back to the north I was confused as to what this structure may have been. There appeared to be a large wall running to the north, with extremely straight foundation edges that were made up of large cut sandstone blocks, much the same as the ones that made up the wall of the flue and the large platform next to it. I then took the necessary steps to excavate on the other side of the wall and found that it not only contained no traces of tile and pottery wasters (as was the case within the interior of the kiln) and was not found to contain any of the crushed sandstone either. It was instead found to contain natural clay, which we now believe to be a natural sloping hill which the kiln was built into.

Image
This image shows the stone platform on the right, with its sandstone wall extending to the north. This is what I believe to be the western wall of the kiln. The bottom of the picture is the interior of the kiln that was filled with pottery and tile wasters.

After this was completed I had to extend the trench further to the north in order to uncover the rest of the sandstone wall which disappeared under the turf heading to the north. Once this new section had been de-turfed and I managed to dig down to the same level of the trenches I previously excavated, and was pleased to find that this wall turned back to the east and appeared quite clearly to be the making of a large kiln structure. With the help of Tanya, and a volunteer excavator named David, who were excavating the eastern wall of the kiln, we were able to discover that there was an identical stone wall to the east which followed the same turns and pattern as the western wall. This was quite clearly suggesting that this was a building of some kind and that the two walls were joined together to the north, following the line of the wall which I had just uncovered. The section to the east that they uncovered was also found to contain a large amount of poorly fired clay pottery and tile wasters, much the same as my excavated areas. These are key items in determining that this structure was in fact a kiln. These are the exact types of things we hoped to find to prove our hypotheses correct. These wasters in conjunction with the burning found in the pit last year and at the mouth of the flue earlier, prove that this is in fact a kiln. I am ecstatic to say that our original hypothesis was correct and that this structure is a kiln. More work will need to be carried out to find the rest of the northern wall, but since I am leaving tomorrow this will have to undertaken by the new volunteers coming into the North Field in a week.

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This image is taken from the north end of the trench and is looking south. This shows how large and straight the stone foundation is of the western kiln wall. You can clearly see at the bottom of the image the 90 degree turn to the east (left in picture) and how the wall is heading to connect to the eastern wall. The right and bottom of the image (outside the wall) is the section of natural clay containing no crushed sandstone or tile/pottery wasters.

 

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In this final image you can see the outline of the eastern wall on the left side of the picture. It has been badly robbed out before this structure was filled in but it follows the same pattern and angles as the western wall on the right. The flue is directly at the top centre of the image and leads to the ash pit. The bottom middle of the picture is the kiln firing chamber which was filled with pottery and tile wasters and would have held pots and tiles for firing.

It has been amazing uncovering this important discovery and I have loved every minute of it. Finding such an important structure in the North Field may help to shed light on what may have been taking place out here, outside of the fort proper and the vicus, and will hopefully help to provide insight into this unknown area. It has been a great pleasure sharing this find with you and I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. That’s all for now.

Cheers!

Declan

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