Day 1: the Sequel

north field trench
The trench in the North Field. You’ll be reading about the gap you see in the mid-ground.

Today we descended into the trenches once again, eager to start a full day of excavation. We split into two groups, one for the vicus and one for the North Field, because the trench in the North Field gets a bit too packed with all of us in there. Crossing the North Field, which as you can see below is easier said than done, I and two others had the enviable job of investigating what appeared to be just a bunch of rocks.

ankle breakers
They don’t look like much, but we call these ankle-breakers for good (thankfully unproven) reason.

As anyone, and specifically the archaeologist, knows, of course, appearances can be deceiving. To prove the point we dug into sodden, moist clay that exhibited an impossible range of colours, none of them easy to reconcile with skin contact. As our work progressed we began to encounter a number of soil strata that, when placed alongside such a structure as, say, a road, began to look potentially man-made. Our current hypothesis is just that. Where this road may have led, however, is anyone’s guess. Given its rather lackluster appearance in unfair comparison to the grand and monumental roads of Roman Italy, it could simply lie between a group of buildings outside of the fort, its cobbled surface ideal for the wet English weather.

As constant as the squelching clay and innumerable rocks were the distant booms of thunder. Towering clouds on the morning horizon soon encroached the site, and we in the North Field had the good luck to be right in the path of some rain clouds. While the fort and vicus were spared all but a few drops, we had a couple bouts of fairly discouraging rain. Breaking out our as-yet-unused rain gear (it was bound to happen eventually) we forged onward until closing time.

dark skies
A glowering sky by the day’s end. Hopefully we can avoid this tomorrow!

Our job for tomorrow is the much the same as today’s. This bunch of rocks might look like little more than just that, but, as we’ve learned, an archaeologist never assumes anything. Our theories change as rapidly as the soil layers we dig through, and over the next few days we’ll find out what we have here in our little slice of England.


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