Tuesday, 4 July 2017


The dig is really starting to get moving with features being discovered and finds pouring forth. In the south-west of the site, Peter’s team are investigating a series of pits and gullies near the footing of our Roman building and around the (previously excavated) well. Although a lot of these features are truncated, others have produced a wide range of early Roman finds. The most remarkable of these was a rather large and rather beautiful bone pin which was discovered today (and many congratulations must go to the finder Sholto for not breaking it as it came out of the soil!). 

            We are enlarging our slots into the very large ovular pit (which is currently being overseen by Sophie), the pit that we ran our first slots into during the 2015 season. This means that we can chase a greater portion of this pit’s edge, and it also will, eventually, give us a greater opportunity to untangle the function of this large mass of finds and differently shaded soil. An important and exciting discovery from here was a well preserved sestertius of Lucius Aelius from 137CE. This leading Hadrianic statesman was even named as the successor to his emperor Hadrian and became governor of Pannonia (in modern Hungry), as our coin evidences. However, he dropped dead on the 1st January 138CE without ever ascending to the purple, so this coin is exciting due to the fact that it came from such a temporally limited production run (and obviously also because it is contextualised directly in a feature).

            The ovular feature sits just east of Peter’s portion, but just north of there lies a new blob-like feature that Sam’s group are engaged in tackling. Similar to ovular pit in both size and the interesting colourations of the archaeological deposits, we have hopes that this feature will be as intriguing as its more heavily excavated neighbour. Indeed, having two of these large pits might be beneficial, in that discovering the original function of one could unlock the primary function of the other. However, contrasting these two features is also possible, for, in Sam’s area last year, was found a row of bovine body parts. These were stratigraphically above, and therefore later in time, than that pit, and we did not find anything similar over the ovular feature back in 2015.

            And, of course, we still have our Roman road – which would have been one of the main streets in Roman Dorchester. Felicia’s team have been putting in a commendable effort in shifting through the many layers of this surface. In addition, they have just uncovered a number of very differently coloured deposits lying further down. There are orangish soils and blackish soils appearing there, and these will need to be planned (or drawn) before we can continue down to see if they are dumps onto the road, or actually fills which are peaking through from below it. 


Some of our first small finds this year: a bone gaming piece (left) and copper alloy ring (right)

The site with all tarp lifted (and not a digger in sight!)

The coin of Lucius Aelius from the ovular feature

Stamped samian

A number of other finds - typical of what we are encountering in the soil at the moment

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