Monday, 13 July 2015

Week 3 underway

In stark contrast to the baking sun of the last two weeks, this week has begun rather damply. And we're not complaining! The showers and drizzle of the last two days have lowered the threat of sun burn considerably, cooled us, damped down the dust that has been blowing into our eyes, and shown up some wonderful colour changes in the soil (which under the hot sun had been changing to a uniform grey seconds after a clean trowelling).

This week's students have started well, getting to grips with the basic excavation methods and theory, and now starting to move on to the detailed recording methods. We have several University of Oxford Department of Continuing Education Diploma of Archaeology students, alongside some returning faces and some keen new ones. Some have even started to collect skills for the BAJR Skills Passport.

In the trench we are getting close to having emptied all of our slots through the northern baulk ditches, and with some having had a really good clean, it is becoming more and more apparent that despite their depth, they are not just cut into the natural soil, but deep archaeological layers. This either means we have a row of earlier pits, or a lot more work to do!

On the Roman road, we had a the rather exciting find of a copper alloy brooch, probably of a Nauheim derivative type... this means probably a 1st century date, but with those upper layers of the road most likely dating to the third of fourth centuries, it had clearly been curated for a while before being deposited.

 Our Nauheim derivative Brooch, 1st C AD

In the centre of the trench we had further confusing sequences of layers in our large ovular feature, with large scale evidence of burning, dumped pottery, butchered animal bones, and iron nails by the dozen! Plenty of further work needed to understand this thing.

Other great finds today included more stamped pottery, an iron brooch (cunningly masquerading as a nail), and the intriguing discovery of a carefully worked top portion of an amphora from southern Spain. The Dressel 20 oil amphora had clearly been carefully removed from the body, the edges filed down, and the handles broken off. We have very little idea why they did it, with ideas ranging from drain soak-away to party hat... Let us know if you have any thoughts on facebook!

Our beheaded Dressel 20 oil amphora, with pound coin for scale. Rather a large thing to bring from Baetica to Dorchester on Thames...

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