Into the deep

It’s been quite the day at Vindolanda for us field schoolers.  In he last couple of days I have moved from a roadside to join Alex and Bert in clearing the much lower, anaerobic soil in the trench beside us. This area has already been partially excavated and it’s lowest point is the natural grey clay. Unfortunately…this means that I can barely see over the stone wall. Alex has joked about a step stool but I have stubbornly refused. Instead I have mastered the art of buckets and accurate shovel tosses. All height issues aside, these have been some of the most interesting days on the site so far for me. Every scoop of dirt is filled with leaves and branches that haven’t seen sun in hundreds of years, yet look like they fell off a tree yesterday!

Every day has its challenges though and today ours was intermittent rainfall. This had all of us ready for a nap by lunchtime to return rejuvenated for the afternoon.

Sally taking a lunchtime nap.

By the end of the day we had quite a few artifacts to be proud of. Steve and Nick’s group found a partial woman’s shoe with some clear punctures along the sides. We find pieces of leather in many of the anaerobic levels but I feel that a shoe is such a personal item. Unlike our modern tendency to have multiple shoes, the average person would have been worn this shoe until it was beyond repair.

Shoe found by Dolores of Steve and Nick’s group.

In our trench, we have been pulling out mostly bone. Today though, we found a relatively large piece of courseware, and to Alex’s excitement, a piece of mortarium with part of a maker’s seal. This would have worked like a mortar and pestle with the mark resting below the rim.

Me holding the mortarium piece. If you look closely you can see the letters.

Our evening ended with a few “friendly” games of badminton at the local Haltwhistle leisure centre. As I am terrible at racquetball sports I came along just to watch. It was quite the sight to see the difference between Alex and Andy playing with full force, and the casual nature of the rest of the field schoolers. Steve and Prem however held their own against Alex and Andy in what they called the Old vs. the New. The “Old” ended up keeping their spot at the top but all were great sports.

Steve, Prem, Alex, and Andy in action.

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