So, I heard that the kiln has hit it big on Facebook! But I wanted to give everyone an official update from the trenches. Also, I promised Declan I’d let him know how all the hard work paid off, and wow, did it ever!? Declan excavated almost all the walls in the kiln, with the last corner appearing on the northwest corner on the last few days of field school. Here it is below, completely excavated…sort of. The stones on the inside are what we call the ‘kiln furniture’, where they would have put shelves of some sort in order to place the unbaked items within the kiln. There are some collapsed stones that will be removed, but this is everything that was inside kiln upon excavation. The feature to the south (up in this image) is an ash pit full of refuse raked out of the kiln after use. A smaller ‘oven/kiln’ to the west (right, in this image) of the ash pit was also a major location of work. The clay all around the kiln on the north, east and west is sterile (nothing ‘man-made’ in it) and is probably boulder clay (the natural ground level). So, we think the kiln was built directly into a bank of clay. Another reason with think that is because the inner walls are very well constructed, but they basically don’t have a back walls–they are just a single line of stones without a corresponding back face. What isn’t here is the top of the kiln, which would have been made of ceramic and is probably found in the remains of the bags and bags of crushed tile that we found in the fill levels above the kiln. Remember all that, Declan?
So, we mostly thought this was a brick and tile kiln, and this is probably what it is…mostly….There were tons of broken and some complete tiles throughout the fill above and inside the kiln. But there’s something more…
We also found this fabulous mould to make a small figurine or applique to be attached to a vessel (there’s no scale on this shot, it’s about 10cm top to bottom). This indicates that more than just brick and tile was being made here. We also found lots of what we call pottery ‘wasters’. Those are basically the misfires and vessels that got bent and broken during production–the ‘scratch and dent’ of the ancient world! So that’s how we know that they are probably also doing at least some small-scale pottery production. The mould is really amazing, and we’re pretty sure that it’s Apollo, in his more feminine guise. Much more than just brick and tile going on out here!
Just so you know exactly what’s going on, the image below shows a circle exactly where the mould was found, in the southeast corner of the kiln, just about at the level of the furniture and walls. This was a really spectacular find for us and I hope you think it deserves the ca. 50,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook!
We’ve got 2 more weeks out there in this North Field trench and it has been fabulous. Over the past two years it has been excavated by two field school groups, 18 Western students, 2 Western Professors, one Dean, our donors, and over 100 Vindolanda volunteers from all over the world, who have all helped to discover an enormous amount of information from this trench. I can’t thank you all enough for your help!
I’ll keep you posted from now until August 1st. I think there is still more to come!