Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Getting our teeth into it

Our walk up the Wittenham Clumps was perfectly timed, with the best weather of the dig so far and a glorious sunset to compliment the breathtaking views of southern Oxfordshire. A lovely stroll, ending as has become traditional, with a pilgrimage to the site of the sadly now deceased "Poem Tree," and a dramatic reading of the poem given by one of the undergrads.

Sunset over Round Hill

Digging has continued apace, as we explore and remove Roman deposits across the site. No great surprises yet in our comprehension of the sequence, or dramatic changes to the 'story' of Dorchester as we currently understand it, but there have been some very nice features to excavate and record, including pits stuffed with pottery and butchery waste, and we've had some fun finds cropping up.

These have included, something of a rarity on our site, several areas with fish bones, including the rather nasty looking jaw and teeth of a pretty large pike.

We have also found several more bone game counters (with the possibility for these having been lost during use, or alternatively during production, given the evidence we've found in previous seasons for the creation of these counters on the site).

Another rather fun find from a few days ago were these fragments of a pot designed for feeding an infant, really quite a rare find. 

 And perhaps most special of all, this copper alloy fibula brooch, possibly a La Tène III, which speaks of some very early activity on site from the pre-conquest period.

The students were treated to a talk and demonstration yesterday afternoon from Prof. Nick Barton, as we roved far beyond the Roman (and possibly late Iron Age) confines of the site with discussion of the production and use of flint tools, and how to distinguish worked flint from natural flakes. Prof. Barton quickly knapped a hand axe, followed by several elements of blade technology such as scrapers and bladelets. 

This afternoon's talk will be our Fieldwork Director, Paul Booth, giving the students in insight into the masses of Roman pottery we uncover on site, and this evening Peter Forward will be treating us to a demonstration of copper smelting. Pictures to come!

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