About national trust archaeology sw

I work for the National Trust as an archaeologist across the south west region. I look after the archaeological collections and run events and assist the two lead archaeologists with excavations etc

Day 9 – There’s a hole in my trench….

Business as usual today, lots of lovely visitors, including quite a few who have been visiting us every year for the last five years.
Fay was banished to the kitchen trench to try to find out if the north range was built in one phase or stopped at the kitchen and was then extended later. By the end of the day she had found two courses of stone wall that do indeed point to the north range having been extended, oh! and a few animal bones as you would expect in a kitchen ūüôā

A job well done Fay

We carried on taking away the middle grassy area in room 28 Рthe mosaic room, there are only  a few very small loose patches of mosaic under the turf Рso far!

Ben cleaning the last of the intact mosaic

The two trenches behind the main back wall were a mixed bag, producing  some more glass, bone, a scaffold pole and some wooden posts! Robs trench next to the kitchen had a few animal runs and holes, there are Bank Voles at Chedworth but these look too deep, there are also a few moles, natural excavators mixing up our layers!

Robs holey trench

More wildlife to finish with a lovely shield bug

Day 8 – Hold that pose….

A very busy day at Chedworth, with lots of volunteers, numerous press photographers and journalists.

A lovely busy site

Photographers have to have a head for heights

It was also a day of layers and features, such as foundation trenches cut when the walls were built. We also have a square stone edged ‘feature’ that we need to investigate further o determine its use.

The stone edged ‘feature’ just appearing

Room 27 with different coulored layers, dark pits and possible post holes and yellow floors and walls

Max came back for the third year to dig, just for the day, which happened to be his birthday, we are very pleased he chose to come and dig with us rather than a trip to the museums in London ūüôā


We had a candle but only a biscuit – no time to sort out a cake!

Day 7 – Ten green bottles….

Today we cleaned away the top soil, the layer under the turf, in all the new trenches, there were numerous finds including some roman pottery, more iron nails, fragments of stone roof tile and glass but sadly not roman!

Rob cleaning back the trench in the lobby room

Fay with her find of the day – an aluminum tent pole!

To add to the wine glass in room 28 -the mosaic room – we have now found the bottles, or remains of bottles that held the liquor that filled the wine glass! It looks like they either flung the empty bottles over the walls or lined them up on the wall as shooting practice!


Neck and lip of one of the bottles



Allan with his find


Alex in the second trench to produce a bottle

Day 4 – you’ve missed a bit

Just when we thought we would see the next part of the floor pattern, we decided to get the whole trench excavated to the same point. We can then all get in a line to peel the soil back, as if rolling a carpet, to find a treasure underneath.

Amy, Elizabeth, Jill and Carol in a familiar situation

Sadly the east end of the mosaic is full of holes, maybe caused by the roots of a tree we can see in photographs taken in the 1900s.

Ready for the morning

The tantalizing  section of mosaic in the middle at the bottom of the picture, hopefully more to see tomorrow

Day 3 – glass half full ….

Today was a mixture of Romans and Victorians, the original residents and the original excavators.

All ready for the final clean, kneelers for the knees and kneelers for the feet so your toes don’t dig into the mosaic

We carried on revealing the mosaic in room 28, one strip at a time. Today started with a final clean off and then a good sponge to reveal the pattern, then towelling the next strip heading further into the centre of the room.

Angela, Carol and Sue very happy mosaic excavators

When we heard a loud¬†‘Wow!’ from Samuel we could not resist sharing our joy of digging the mosaic with him and his sister Anna¬†hopefully helping nurture the archaeologists of the future!

Anna and Samuel doing a brilliant job  excavating the mosaic

Two happy diggers

In the opposite side of room 28 Rob had a trench all to himself, his task was to take off the soil and rubble hopefully to find intact mosaic. Amongst the loose tesserae, nails, painted plaster and mouse bones he found a glass object. Great excitement as we clean down and around it, was it roman? Looked a bit chunky for a roman glass vessel which are usually very thin.

The glass turned out to be part of a Victorian panel wine glass, perhaps dropped by a visitor staying at the  lodge or a garden party as Lord Eldon showed off the excavations to his friends. I wonder what it had contained?

The glass before we lifted it from its bed of soil

At the end of the day the mosaics¬†had continued but there were¬†more holes in the floor, will we get the next decorative scheme? what is beyond the knotted guilloche band? we hold our breath……..

The mosaic at the end of the day all clean and bright

Day 2 … mosaics here, there and everywhere

Only the second day and we have wonderful mosaics and not just in the test pit from 17 years ago!

Most of the sand has been removed and the finer cleaning begins

Fay, Carol, Helen, Rob and Pete took off the next layer just above the mosaic, it contained Victorian glass, the odd iron nail and one piece of roman pot. In places the layer was not as deep and glimpses of mosaic were seen. Amy and Charlotte joined them in the afternoon when we started to clean the last of the soil to reveal the mosaic. Exciting to see it was in such good condition and how small the tesserae are.


The girls working hard to get to the layer just above the mosaics


A glimpse of the wonders to come

I wonder what is under the slate? probably put down by the Victorians when they first explored the room

We also opened two more trenches in room 27 where a pot was found dug into the ground during the test pit survey in 2000, we have no idea what else we may find, time will tell.


The two trenches in room 27, there is evidence of burning next to the large stones just below the red and white scale.

Today was very sunny and we had some very small visitors on site and in our buckets!


A lovely little lizard


Day 1 Chedworth Villa …..and we are open

The turf is removed

The first trenches have been de-turfed and the test trenches dug in the year 2000 discovered.

Terram — a breathable membrane a tell-tale sign of the test trench from 2000


Ready to peel back the terram to find the sand










The breathable membrane was put on top of yellow sand that sits on the mosaic. Seventeen years ago it  was thought to be a good way to protect the mosaics and make it easy to re dig if checking on its condition. The problem is that the sand is builders sand and stays wet and the yellow colour  can stain the white tesserae, it sticks to the surface of the mosaic and takes a lot of work to clean it off.


Ta Dar! we have a lovely mosaic in very good condition, hopefully this bodes well for the rest of the room and we will have much more to show you over the next few days.