Down Among the Tin Mines, Levant and Botallack

Back in June, Jim (Devon and Cornwall NT Archaeologist) took me to Levant. In August, I spent a week at St Just, the local tin mining capital, a little south-west from Botallack and Levant along the West Cornwall coast.

Botallack mine a little south-west along the coast towards St Just from Levant mine.

Botallack mine a little south-west along the coast towards St Just from Levant mine.

Approaching the town, the landscape is studded with ruined towers and engine houses. On the skyline, two particular buildings stand out from St Just. On the left is the parish church tower and on the right is a much larger stone warehouse like building. Some great storehouse for tin ore perhaps.. no its the Wesleyan Chapel.

Tin mining here dates back to the Bronze Age but what you see when walking the beautiful rocky coastline are warning signs for deep shafts, piles of overgrown rock and debris and engine houses, lots of 19th century engine houses. Advances in steam engine technology were pioneered here. The mining remains have World Heritage Site status.. but how did it work and who was involved? Why would you need so many chimneys?

An array of engine house chimneys. Taking steam engine exhaust from machines with various purposes. To drain or ventilate the mine, to bring ore to the surface or transport miners to and from the mine shafts, to crush the ore into powder or to heat the furnaces to remove the arsenic from the powdered ore.

An array of engine house chimneys. Taking steam engine exhaust from machines with various purposes. To drain or ventilate the mine, to bring ore to the surface or transport miners to and from the mine shafts, to crush the ore into powder or to heat the furnaces to remove the arsenic from the powdered ore.

At Levant, we looked out to sea and Jim said that the best tin and copper ore veins went out under the ocean and that’s where the mine shafts lead, hundreds of metres out below the Atlantic. Sometimes the mines strayed too close to the sea bed in search of ore, the roof weeped water and was patched with wood and cement. In 1893, the Rev Horsefield described how the sea was an audible presence in the miners’ lives “and so near the surface of the bed of the sea that the rolling of the boulders to and fro and the roaring of the waves are distinctly heard by them”

The mine shafts continue for over a mile out under the sea bed. An 1840 beam engine still operates in the engine house here at Levant.

The mine shafts continue for over a mile out under the sea bed. An 1840 beam engine still operates in the engine house here at Levant.

That’s why so many engine houses are perched above the cliffs. Engines to ventilate the mines, to pump out the water that seeped into the workings, to bring up the ore …and at Levant they had a man-engine that took the miners down to the workings. They’d change in the dry-room, walk down the tunnel, take a lump of clay from their alcove above the shaft and then fix a lighted candle with the clay to the helmet. Not an easy place to work.. it was hot in the bowels of the earth..sometimes they just wore boots and helmets.

The dry room, a large area laced with hot pipes where the miners would wash and change into dry clothes after a days work

The dry room, a large area laced with hot pipes where the miners would wash and change into dry clothes after a days work

I found Rev Horsefield’s book in the cottage I stayed in at St Just and he, a rector from Manchester, compared the Cornish miners with the coal miners of Lancashire. In contrast to many of the miners he’d known, he said that the Cornish miners were full of faith in God. They worshiped in the great Weslyan church of St Just and other chapels along the coast (the Botallack Sunday School building is huge) and they sang hymns on their way to work. ‘They sang in the mines’ said Jim. “Have you ever been down a Cornish mine”. “No I said”.. “The acoustics are wonderful”.

A more polite building to one side of the mine workings. The Botallack 'count house' short for accounts house or counting house. It was a more polite building where the management and administration of the mine took place. It was where the 'adventurers' or investors/shareholdes in the mine would meet.

A more polite building to one side of the mine workings. The Botallack ‘count house’ short for accounts house or counting house. It was a more polite building where the management and administration of the mine took place. It was where the ‘adventurers’ or investors/shareholdes in the mine would meet.

The Reverend goes through the whole process: the compressed air drill at the mine face, the transport of the ore to the summit. Gangs of men broke the rock into smaller pieces and it was taken to a crushing machine to smash into powder. The powder was taken by water into a furnace where intense heat burnt off the arsenic from the ore which was deposited on the walls as a white powder. This was scraped from the walls from time to time and sold as the first product. From the calciner the remaining ore was conveyed by water to a series of soup-plate like features or buddles where the heavy tin gradually settled out and was collected.. the second product. Beyond this, the remaining material, with the lighter copper, was carried by water to a tank filled with old iron. The copper collected on the iron and was scraped off for a third product. So not just tin mines… it begins to make sense of all the ruins, the pits and the towers..

The tunnel from the drying room to the 'man-engine that took the miners down to the work faces. On the right are rows of alcoves to hold clay and candles and other items needed for the mine or left behind by the miners for their return. This was the last walk from the surface for 31 men on 20th October 1919. A short time later the man-engine collapsed.

The tunnel from the drying room to the ‘man-engine that took the miners down to the work faces. On the right are rows of alcoves to hold clay and candles and other items needed for the mine or left behind by the miners for their return. This was the last walk from the surface for 31 men on 20th October 1919. A short time later the man-engine collapsed.

In 1919, less than a year after many miners returned from the horrors of the Great War trenches, the man-engine broke and the shaft bringing men up after a day’s work collapsed killing 31 of them.

These were dangerous places, abandoned shafts filled with water and were forgotten, sometimes new mine-shafts broke into them by mistake. This would release a tide of water which could drown the miners before they reached the ladders to escape. The Rev wrote of the 1893 Wheel Owles disaster near Botallack “As the torrent rushed into Wheal Owles it pushed the air before it, creating a great wind which blew out all the lights, plunging the terrified miners into absolute darkness. Those working on the upper levels narrowly escaped with their lives. Nineteen men and a boy were never seen again.Their remains are still entombed in the flooded workings.”
A meeting of 1000 miners took place at St Just demanding that the mine owners recover the bodies.. but it would cost £3000 and the mine was in financial difficulties.

Most of the Cornish tin workings closed in the later 19th century and the miners emigrated to find new opportunities in places like Canada and Australia. There are still many communities containing the descendants of exiled Cornish miners. A few years ago, we bumped into this global history at Greymouth on the west coast of South Island, New Zealand. A remote place, far from Cornwall, where tin miners had made a fresh life for themselves to quarry new veins of ore from under the sub-tropical bush.

Ding Dong, Levant and Wheal Jessie
Standing like bad broken teeth
in the jaw-bone of the Cornish land.

Are these the giants of the legends?

Singing in the man engine
Light song in the darkness and seeping damp
Songs of joy and youth in the open bath house

‘Old Hundred’chanting in the mist
and fog of the March dawn.
‘All people that on earth do dwell
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice’
Stump, stump of the engine’s heart beating.

Songs of glory and of joy,
Rushing up,up on the waves of heat,
From the rumbling intestines
of Earth’s great stomach (Scott Tutthill, ‘Song for Past Cornish Miners’)

Tin miners at Cook's Kitchen Mine 1893 during a lunch break 'croust'. Their light is produced by candles fixed to their helmets with lumps of damp clay. Miners would take advantage of the fine acoustics and sing hymns down the mines

Tin miners at Cook’s Kitchen Mine 1893 during a lunch break ‘croust’. Their light is produced by candles fixed to their helmets with lumps of damp clay. Miners would take advantage of the fine acoustics and sing hymns down the mines

Day 12 Last discoveries and Careful Covering

Why can’t we keep it open? We just can’t. It would quickly be mashed by Chedworth’s winter frosts. Weeds would colonise the tesserae and roots break up the pattern. We can’t expose something and allow it to be trashed. So the last day was backfill day.

Bill and his team setting up the laser scanner to make a 3D record of the mosaic surface. Interesting Dr   Who style white station orbs.

Bill and his team setting up the laser scanner to make a 3D record of the mosaic surface. Interesting Dr Who style white station orbs.

Nancy had sourced the right sort of cover fabric. Nicki had got it sent by courier to make sure it arrived on time. While I completed the site record, drawing the plans and sections and writing up the context sheets, Nancy organised the covering. Sandbags were filled with topsoil to support the mosaic edges and fine topsoil was placed on the terram sheet.

Visitors hurried from reception to get a last glimpse before the mosaic was consigned to the dark once again. 150 years since its first discovery.

While drawing the plan of the site we found a mottled stone which on closer inspection turned out to be a piece of Italian marble.   An exotic material brought to the villa to decorate an architectural feature or perhaps part of a panel on a  piece of furniture.

While drawing the plan of the site we found a mottled stone which on closer inspection turned out to be a piece of Italian marble. An exotic material brought to the villa to decorate an architectural feature or perhaps part of a panel on a piece of furniture.

So with all this highly accurate digital recording why measure and draw it the old fashioned way? Well.. it’s all about relationships. One has to touch the soil, by measuring you question what you seen. The closer you look, the more you understand and spotting something on a scan once the site is backfilled is too late. That’s my excuse for playing around with tape measures and a drawing board while 11 days of spoil were being heroically relocated in a single day.

A light misty rain fell every now and then, making drawing difficult. I measured a piece of stone which I thought at first was slate but turned out to be a corner piece from an Italian marble panel. Proving again that this place was an opulent mansion and we now see only the bare bones of something which was once quite magnificent.

The last pieces of excavation in room 'e' revealed that the wall was later than the east -west wall on the right but earlier than the colonnade wall (top left) because it runs under it.  Water probably entered the feature from the baths  (top left) and drained out of the centre of the   east side (bottom right).

The last pieces of excavation in room ‘e’ revealed that the wall was later than the east -west wall on the right but earlier than the colonnade wall (top left) because it runs under it. Water probably entered the feature from the baths (top left) and drained out of the centre of the east side (bottom right).

The water feature in ‘e’ became even more confusing when I asked Rob to make a narrow trench to link his 1.2m square trench in the south-west corner of the building towards the mosaic to the north. The square trench had been filled with Victorian backfill 1.0m deep from top to bottom but the northern extension found a Roman mortar floor at 0.4m and by making the north side of the square trench vertical it became clear that our trench had copied the Victorian exploratory trench and everything north of it appeared to be undisturbed Roman.

IMG_7993

Too late to understand it better. The north extension did not find a flight of steps into a bath but a rough mortar shelf with fragments of blue lias slabs crushed into its surface. We can imagine a supply of used water from the baths entering this feature from the north and perhaps surrounding a statue or fountain within the building before leaving via the drain we know about on the east side. We know a bit more about this feature now but not enough. We need to look around for some comparisons.

Rob's trench across our 'water feature' in 'e'. He extended his 1.2m square trench in its SW corner north towards the mosaic room wall. The big block of stone is part of the late Roman colonnade wall which is contemporary with the mosaic. It runs over an earlier wall line which you can see at the end of the trench on the right hand side of the stone.   Rob's extension picked up an uneven mortar floor which sloped down towards the square trench and has blue lias stone slabs broken onto its surface. The filling of the square trench had all been Victorian backfill but by cleaning the north trench wall back the Roman mortar surface could be seen overlying a compacted clay layer.  So there was a Roman platform of clay and mortar extending into the walled 'water feature' Had the Victorians dug through it or was the south side meant to be deeper. Over 1.0m deep from the wall top to the stone and mortar base.

Rob’s trench across our ‘water feature’ in ‘e’.
He extended his 1.2m square trench in its SW corner north towards the mosaic room wall. The big block of stone is part of the late Roman colonnade wall which is contemporary with the mosaic. It runs over an earlier wall line which you can see at the end of the trench on the right hand side of the stone. Rob’s extension picked up an uneven mortar floor which sloped down towards the square trench and has blue lias stone slabs broken onto its surface. The filling of the square trench had all been Victorian backfill but by cleaning the north trench wall back the Roman mortar surface could be seen overlying a compacted clay layer. So there was a Roman platform of clay and mortar extending into the walled ‘water feature’ Had the Victorians dug through it or was the south side meant to be deeper. Over 1.0m deep from the wall top to the stone and mortar base.

Sir Ian Richmond’s walls did exist. Sometimes they were buried quite deep below his concrete but they existed. We did not prove or disprove the interpretations as early baths he gave them.

A trench to test one of Sir Ian's walls. This one lay 0.3m deeper than the base of his interpretive concrete walls. The line of the buried wall would have  continued east under the centre of the 'Reception Room' mosaic. Our extension trench only found the mortar bedding for the mosaic with one or two fragments at the edges.

A trench to test one of Sir Ian’s walls. This one lay 0.3m deeper than the base of his interpretive concrete walls. The line of the buried wall would have continued east under the centre of the ‘Reception Room’ mosaic. Our extension trench only found the mortar bedding for the mosaic with one or two fragments at the edges.

Finally I was finished with the recording and threw myself fresh into the backfilling and hit a wall of congealed rubble, mud and clay. The rain had mingled with the spoil heap, seeped down to the waterproof tarpaulin fusing it into an unyielding barrier. Shifting it was very hard work but everyone worked so hard to put it back where it came from and eventually we saw the grass again and the vast heap of dirt had gone.

This is the earliest layer we reached a cobbled floor surface which is covered by the 'water feature' west wall which itself pre-dates the mosaic floor.

This is the earliest layer we reached a cobbled floor surface which is covered by the ‘water feature’ west wall which itself pre-dates the mosaic floor.

Thank you so much to everyone who helped over the two weeks and all the encouragement of the Chedworth staff and volunteers and of course the visitors who cheered us on…but Nancy and I would particularly like to thank the Bank Cottage stalwarts Harry, Carol, Kate and Fay.

All safely covered up again.

All safely covered up again.

Day….10…The Plaster and the Scanner

I looked in the mirror at 6 today.. the days have taken their toll not a good day to meet the DG.

Chedworth at 7.30 is very beautiful. Quiet, with house martins flitting across the blue!! whispy cloud-flecked sky and the low sunlight picking out the contours of the mosaic. Lots to do.

Looking on the positive side, the wet weather brought up the colours of the mosaic very well.

Looking on the positive side, the wet weather brought up the colours of the mosaic very well.

The previous two days very wet. The once compliant soil turning to claggy mud and causing everything to get messy. Efforts to clean precious surfaces not rewarding. Morale low.

But today…life looked rosier but the loss of time has put the pressure on. The mosaic is virtually uncovered but there are questions to answer.

IMG_7931

Sir Ian’s concrete walls. What did they represent? They don’t appear to relate to anything and Steve the mosaic expert believed that there should be a different central design. We extended to find it but the mosaic is largely lost in the middle of the room.

A good sequence of events. On the left an early wall with a contemporary mortar floor. Both cut by the foundation trench for the limestone blocks for the colonnade wall. This was abutted by a curb that had the mosaic laid against it. The stone steps run over the curb and mosaic edge but they were probably rebuilt in the 1860s.

A good sequence of events. On the left an early wall with a contemporary mortar floor. Both cut by the foundation trench for the limestone blocks for the colonnade wall. This was abutted by a curb that had the mosaic laid against it. The stone steps run over the curb and mosaic edge but they were probably rebuilt in the 1860s.

Fay tested a Richmond wall line at the east edge of the site. Nothing but mortary backfill 0.3m down. Perhaps look a little deeper tomorrow. Carol and Harry tried the east junction of the water feature wall where it joined the corridor wall and that showed it butted the corridor… so was later.

Kate's trench to check the line of Richmond's early wall as it passed under the later bath house was filled with unexpected chunks of decoration.

Kate’s trench to check the line of Richmond’s early wall as it passed under the later bath house was filled with unexpected chunks of decoration.

Kate dug a trench where a wall should run under the later baths on the north side of the steps…and uncovered..wonderful things. Large blocks of painted plaster which could be seen to extend beyond the wall line and under the mosaic. It seems that just before the floor was laid, the plaster was thrown down as a hardcore. It looked like the painting on the plaster had been created yesterdaywith vivid colours, brush strokes and marking out lines for the stripes still visible.

Red and blue lines on cream. Part of a rubble base thrown down on which the mosaic was laid.

Red and blue lines on cream. Part of a rubble base thrown down on which the mosaic was laid.

With more rain promised for tomorrow, Bill brought the laser scanner today and as we were not ready.. he kindly used the time by carrying out a laser scan of the finest and most famous Chedworth mosaic. The one in the dining room of the West Range which shows the four seasons.

We worked, all of us, cleaning and uncovering..as the hours ticked away ..and then it was time and we watched as mysterious white orb stations were placed around the site and the scanner was set up. First creating a point cloud and then a mosaic of digital images. The two are combined to form a millimeter accurate image of the mosaic.

Though it is buried on Friday we will have an excellent record to inspire us as we seek the funding for the cover building which will enable the mosaic to be seen again.

Day Six Chedworth’s ‘Water Feature’

This work is part of a 5 year research plan supported by English Heritage to understand the North Range of Chedworth Roman Villa to enable the design and to raise money for a cover building. On Friday, we will rebury the site but we now know the potential for future conservation and display of the villa’s hidden gems.

Apart from the mosaic we also want to understand the features that James Farrer uncovered in 1864 (150 years ago 2014) and Sir Ian Richmond in 1963. We do not have photographs or drawings of their work.

Early morning 6th day after removing covers for photos. The islands between Sir Ian Richmonds wall trenches of 1963. We have lettered them in anti-clockwise order from bottom left 'a', bottom right 'b', 'top right 'c'. then 'd' in front of wooden steps and the 'water feature' is 'e' top left.

Early morning 6th day after removing covers for photos. The islands between Sir Ian Richmonds wall trenches of 1963. We have lettered them in anti-clockwise order from bottom left ‘a’, bottom right ‘b’, ‘top right ‘c’. then ‘d’ in front of wooden steps and the ‘water feature’ is ‘e’ top left.

We have uncovered area ‘e’ which is a walled enclosure which projects south into the inner courtyard of the villa.
It is thought to have been an ornate water feature of some kind but we do not know how deep it is or how it functioned. Richmond exposed the wall tops. Farrer dug it out and then it was backfilled with Roman spoil from the excavations. Every now and then a piece of Victorian pottery or a button betrays the fact that we are dealing with something 150 years old rather than 1600. Rob has found a clay lining and fragments of fallen pink mortar but he is about 0.6m deep and has not found the base yet.

We have put two small trenches into the water feature 'e'. Rob is taking out 19th century backfill. Most of it is Roman debris but from time to time we find Victorian china mixed in with it.

We have put two small trenches into the water feature ‘e’. Rob is taking out 19th century backfill. Most of it is Roman debris but from time to time we find Victorian china mixed in with it.

We need to discover details of Richmond’s early walls and I investigated the one that runs under the stone steps. A line of stones proved to be edging for the grand reception room mosaic that runs against its east side. Below Richmond’s concrete was clay mixed with 4th century pottery and this overlay a wall with a mortar floor against its west side at a lower level. I wonder whether the edging stones against the mosaic indicate that there was a door into the Reception Room here in the late 4th century.

This is Rob's trench against the water feature's south east corner. A view from the steps towards the villa courtyard. He is finding some large lumps of pink plaster which may once have lined the pool. We don't know how deep it is and what the floor is made of. In the foreground is my trench to understand one of Richmond's walls. Beneath the concrete was a line of stones. Jan cleaned the mosaic here. The stones were a kerb for the mosaic edge and had been built over 4th century backfill which covered the earlier wall. The kerb/curb may indicate a doorway into the reception room from the west between the steps and the colonnade marked out in stone slabs middle distance.

This is Rob’s trench against the water feature’s south east corner. A view from the steps towards the villa courtyard. He is finding some large lumps of pink plaster which may once have lined the pool. We don’t know how deep it is and what the floor is made of. In the foreground is my trench to understand one of Richmond’s walls. Beneath the concrete was a line of stones. Jan cleaned the mosaic here. The stones were a kerb for the mosaic edge and had been built over 4th century backfill which covered the earlier wall. The kerb/curb may indicate a doorway into the reception room from the west between the steps and the colonnade marked out in stone slabs middle distance.

We have almost completed the uncovering of mosaic islands ‘c’ and ‘d’ now. ‘c’ has some significant loss but ‘d’ is good. Across the wall cutting to the east area’a’ has also lost quite a large area. The decorated panels are varied and impressive. We still have area ‘b’ to uncover but things are progressing well… oh dear heavy rain on Monday we will need to make the most of today.

This is the mosaic towards the end of day 6 looking south-east from 'c'. Within the red and white stripes forming the edge design, the various types of decorative panels are emerging. In the foreground, Harry has uncovered a ring of diamonds forming a star-like panel.

This is the mosaic towards the end of day 6 looking south-east from ‘c’. Within the red and white stripes forming the edge design, the various types of decorative panels are emerging. In the foreground, Harry has uncovered a ring of diamonds forming a star-like panel.

Day 5 Joining the Islands. A Grand Reception

We had a lot of help today and so were able to make good progress and work together on the careful uncovering of the mosaics.

Looking  south-west from c towards d on the right and a on the left. All the islands of mosaics have gaps but what remains all link together into one 18m long and 6.75m wide mosaic.

Looking south-west from c towards d on the right and a on the left. All the islands of mosaics have gaps but what remains all link together into one 18m long and 6.75m wide mosaic.

We discovered today that the concrete walls we had removed had not defined four rooms each with different mosaics but had divided and cut through one large late Roman mosaic. A strange and destructive 1963 decision.

Looking north from d-c. The north-west corner of the reception room where there is a blocked door.

Looking north from d-c. The north-west corner of the reception room where there is a blocked door.

Professors Peter and Simon, Chedworth’s specialist advisers on Roman Britain, visited today and saw that our discovery had confirmed their hypothesis that this 18m long and 6.75m area was one large, grand reception room. Guests of the villa owner would have been brought first into this room and were wowed by the scale and opulence of the place. The owner was showing off his wealth and power. The intricate designs of he floor would have been matched by decorated plaster walls but only fragments of this design survive where bits of plaster fell to the floor. Most was taken away in 1864 by the Victorian excavators. We uncovered the north-east corner of the reception room mosaic last year and now we are looking at the opposite end of the room.

The views south from c -d towards the backfilled water feature e.

The views south from c -d towards the backfilled water feature e.

It has the same broad white band at the edge surrounding red and white stripes that in turn enclose a variety of geometric designs.

Last day for a few of us today. Many thanks particularly to Luke and Tom. The early days shifting concrete enabled the gentler pursuit of mosaic cleaning.

Last day for a few of us today. Many thanks particularly to Luke and Tom. The early days shifting concrete enabled the gentler pursuit of mosaic cleaning.

Day 4 Beneath Topsoil, Mosaic Islands

Things have become rather interesting at Chedworth (which is an understated archaeological way of saying..very exciting indeed).

Yesterday Terry visited the Villa and told us that he had assisted Professor Richmond 50 years ago. He had built the kerbs and laid the pink concrete. ‘We only dug where Sir Ian had marked out the walls’ he said, not the islands in between’

That explained it. We didn’t expect to find mosaics. None of the villa plans we had seen had marked any here and the mosaic survey of 2000 didn’t bother looking here, thinking that Sir Ian would have mentioned them… but he didn’t look between the walls.

Kate and Megan cleaning the topsoil off the southern room, perhaps a backfilled plunge pool. Beneath this there were lots of Victorian bits and pieces including an button fastener..and quite a few buttons.

Kate and Megan cleaning the topsoil off the southern room, perhaps a backfilled plunge pool. Beneath this there were lots of Victorian bits and pieces including an button fastener..and quite a few buttons.

Now that the concrete is up, there are five islands (we have lettered them a-e)and so far mosaics have been found on four. Very little survives in the southern room (e). It sticks out into the courtyard and has been described as a ‘tank’ with a drain coming out of it. It may be a plunge bath.. a small bit of mosaic was found by Luke at the threshold but the rest is backfill (Terry says not dug in 1963) and the finds in the top layer included items that may be of 1860s date. One small metal tool was found, possibly Roman but no, it was a Victorian button fastener. Over in the north-west corner of the site (island c) Carol found a very worn coin..Fay saw that it was a ‘bun’ halfpenny and Nancy spotted the date 1867 (3 years after the villa was excavated following discovery).

We've put green plastic where the Roman walls were meant to be to protect the surfaces while we work on the islands of Roman archaeology between. So far we have found areas of mosaic in four of the five islands. In the foreground (island c) Alice has almost taken off the last of the topsoil to reveal a landscape of mosaic fragments.  At the foot of the wooden steps (d) Carol has begun to clean back a much better preserved area,

We’ve put green plastic where the Roman walls were meant to be to protect the surfaces while we work on the islands of Roman archaeology between. So far we have found areas of mosaic in four of the five islands. In the foreground (island c) Alice has almost taken off the last of the topsoil to reveal a landscape of mosaic fragments. At the foot of the wooden steps (d) Carol has begun to clean back a much better preserved area,

Now that the concrete is gone… there is nothing for it but to put aside the mechanical breaker and pickaxe and gently tickle the topsoil with trowel, plastic spatula and fine brush.

In ‘c’, below topsoil are loads of mosaic cubes scattered across the area but against the wall a line of white tessera still in place and we hope for a pattern beneath the scattered tessera when we go deeper tomorrow. This area has the look of an area not excavated in 1864 but we will see.

We haven’t looked in ‘b’ yet but Fay and Jeremy found a red and white design in ‘a’.

But in ‘d’.. in ‘d’… at the foot of the wooden steps, beneath a scatter of gravel thrown down to limit erosion.. where many thousands of feet had crossed,less than an inch higher and oblivious of what lay beneath… a rather nice pattern is beginning to emerge.

Here is where we have got to so far, a red and white broad border with a finer blue frame around a woven style guilloche (I think that's the right spelling) mat. We found something like it in the West Range corridor in 2012.

Here is where we have got to so far, a red and white broad border with a finer blue frame around a woven style guilloche (I think that’s the right spelling) mat. We found something like it in the West Range corridor in 2012.

Day Three – technical frustrations, give me a trowel quick!

Well, once again internet technical frustration plague our best intentions!  its day four and I am still trying to let you all know what has happened  on site during day two and three! 

Day three turned up more mosaics and Mike cleaned the wall tops that we have in one part of the site and a great job he did.

small section of mosaic apearing

small section of mosaic appearing

 

Mike in red surveying his handy work

Mike in red surveying his handy work