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.

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