After a marathon four weeks, with just one day off for the supervisors, the season is done. More than 70 students have been shown the archaeological ropes, tons of soil have been moved, thousands of pottery sherds unearthed, and we only had significant delays for weather on one single day: the very last.
Week 4's students had been proceeding excellently with the various archaeological tasks, gaining skills for their skills passports, and uncovering more archaeological layers. In the north east corner of the site we have emptied a good deal of the post Medieval (possibly 17th century) cut feature, and so can now better understand the damage it has done to the Roman deposits beneath. The long east-west ditch along the northern baulk of the site clearly seems to cut the Roman road; whilst the fill is dense with Roman pottery and coins, it seems most likely that the ditch is post-Roman, given our understanding of the chronology of the layers of the road.
Elsewhere in the trench we have had some intriguing parallel slots appear in a layer of the road, perhaps created by beams laid on their edges, with stones arrayed along them to hold them in place; interpretations suggested have included markers for the progress of work, or some form of gate structure across the road. We're not really entirely convinced by either of those suggestions however!
Some of the star finds of the week included a fragment of roller-stamped flue tile, a material which often tends to be associated with the bathhouses of mansiones in Romano British small towns; a bone needle with its eye intact, a rare thing given their fragility; an extremely long piece of copper wire (c. 15cm), perhaps part of a hair pin; and a Domitianic dupondius, one of the earliest Roman coins to come from the site so far.
We were all set for a good final day of finishing off the digging of contexts, filling in context records, and section and plan drawings, but unfortunately the British summer had other ideas, as we received several centimetres of rain. By about 10am the downpour had become too heavy to continue work, with the ramp out of the trench becoming slippery and the archaeology under threat. The perils of digging in Britain!
The trench is now in the process of being put to sleep again for another year. We are really thankful to all those who took part in this year's excavations, including the students, the supervisory team of Laura Jones, Peter Forward, Abigail Tompkins, Esther Fisher, Patrick Cuthbertson, Thomas Matthews Boehmer; our finds officer Anni Byard; all those who gave lectures; Cliff Sofield; and John Gibbs and Alan Davis for all their assistance with tools and logistics.
We're all looking forward to being back next year however - watch this space for more updates and details of the 2016 season (once we've properly recovered).