Tuesday, 27 June 2017

We're under way!

Hello – we have been quiet on the blogging front for a little while, but now have much to report. As our site in the centre of Dorchester is covered with soil (backfill) at the end of each season, we have to make sure that we have most of it lifted before the first set of students arrive. Therefore, last week I spent four days with digger and dumper attempting to get as much soil as possible out of the 20 by 30m trench (see the photos below for before-and-after shots). Although this took almost four days, I was able to roughly locate most of our buried features, and it also allowed me to appreciate the huge amounts of soil we had lifted in previous seasons. Indeed, the views from the top of our spoilheap after last week were simply splendid.

            However, having welcomed the first set of students to the dig on Saturday, we turned (on Sunday) to mattock, shovel, and wheelbarrow so as to lift the rest of the backfill off the tarpaulin. There was a tremendous amount of effort put in by the students (who came from universities as far apart as Michigan State in the US to St Andrews in the UK), and a special mention must go to Theo who managed to wheel-up to the top of our pile of spoil 106 wheelbarrows in a period of c.6.30hrs. Such was their collective effort that I am happily able to report that today (Tuesday) we have now got most of the overlying soil up and out of the trench and onto the spoilheap (which is even larger as a result). The job is to now lift the tarpaulin, revealing our long-covered features, and clean them up with trowel so that we can start excavating the archaeology underneath.

            Lifting backfill means that we should encounter few to no finds because most will have been removed in previous seasons. However, our metal-detectorist (Shaun), did go over our spoilheap yesterday (Monday) and found 14 Roman 4th century coins (including one of the Emperor Gratian). These were out of context (as they were found within the spoil), and yet they do help support the picture we are developing of our site as an area of increased activity in the later years of the Roman occupation of Britain. I hope to report on more finds as they start to pour forth in the coming days.

            Finally, I am very happy to inform you all that we have a new Instagram account, so, if you are an Instagramer, a filterer, or just looking for a nice daily picture, check it out. Our account should be open so all can view (but if you yourself have Instagram please give us a follow!). If you type into your browser ‘https://www.instagram.com/dorchesterdig/’, it should direct you to the right spot.

Over and out,


Before dig

After machining 
Backfill mostly removed