I leave the cottage early and travel 10 minutes through the Cotswold countryside to the villa. It all seems so luxuriously well kept. Hedges and walls and distant rolling views across the harvesting wheat fields.
The partridge and pheasants crowd the narrow road just past the perfect creamy stone Yanworth.. and in the stubble field off to the right 2 tall hares with black tipped ears remind me of the triclinium mosaic in the West Range.
So park, unload the bucket of tape measures, the drawing boards and the mounting number of context sheets, bulging in the bright yellow lever arch file.
Time to mark out a new trench on the terrace above the North Range. This will be 5n. Lovely view from up here. I look down onto trench 5m, where Rob has discovered the neat, stone capped drain. I am looking for the boundary of the villa and a possible Roman path-way running beside it.
Triangulate the right angles and string out a 3m by 2m trench across the supposed line of the wall. I discover that it can be felt beneath the grass.
Everyone arrives and the turf is gone by tea break. Carol cries ‘clear up your loose! and we congregate in the shade under the gazebo. Our talk is of empires and invasions or to be more modern .. of pc peaceful coexistence and the generous exchange of ideas and land (after all we’re all farmers at heart).
Then back to the soil and John has found large lumps of tegula (evidence of roof collapse) and Rob has discovered shale… The boundary is large and chunky and continues, easily traceable, in a previously unsuspected way, along the valley slope parallel with the villa.
Peter has found another extraordinary course of faced Roman wall in his Room 27 trench. He has resigned himself to the reality that trench 5d will be his life from now on ..and the Roman stratigraphy will never stop. There are regular pottery updates but nothing definitely 2nd century and no coins.. though these are required.
I stay late to draw the floor of Room 28 but assure the friendly Italian family that we have the digi tech people to do it properly. They will scan it next Wednesday… All must be pristine and ready by then. The turf is almost gone.