Sunday, 3 July 2016

Week 2 begins

Week 2 of excavation is starting off productively, and we’re all enjoying the sun (and the cows!) in the allotments today! Now that we’re fully underway, we’re back to our regular program of excavation combined with short lectures. Today was an introduction to the site grid and to planning by Cliff Sofield and Patrick Cuthbertson, followed by an introduction to Early Medieval Oxfordshire by Abi Tompkins.

Abi Tompkins introducing the students to Early Medieval Oxfordshire.

Bone gaming counter

At the end of last year’s season, we came down on several enigmatic features on the Roman road that runs N-S through the site – the most enigmatic of which were a pair of stone-lined, hollow, parallel voids running across the road. As there is no obvious outlet for drainage purposes, they don’t seem to be drains. Several other ideas have been floated: were they supports for a crane? The base of a gate running across the road? We’re open to suggestions! Last summer we ran out of time to investigate the voids – we’ve started the process of cleaning, photographing and planning them today.

The enigmatic parallel voids in the Roman road.
Roman nail cleaner (R) with modern replica of Roman toiletry kit, made by Peter Forward, one of our supervisors (L)
Another rather enigmatic feature in the middle of the site seems to be a large pit, full of mid-Roman pottery, plaster and mortar, and numerous metallic objects including an iron knife blade that we found today. Nearly everything about the pit – from its dimensions to its exact function – remains to be seen!

Numerous finds have also come out of other mid-Roman deposits under excavation – including a piece of repaired Samian ware and a beautifully polished bone gaming counter. Another deposit has furnished lots and lots of animal bone and a number of nails. All in all, we’re excited be underway, and curious about what will follow!

A terra sigillata sherd with signs of repair
Learning about bones...
This evening the students are off on a guided wander to the Dyke Hills and up the Wittenham Clumps, as we attempt to broaden their horizons beyond just the Roman period! 

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