Day Seven – Old friends

Fay, Carol and Amy returned refreshed after a day off, to be greeted by a no go area as we had a drone flying over the site to record the mosaics and parch marks, pale areas in the grass due to the drought conditions were the grass is over a hard surface, like a wall or compacted area like a path way, the site looked fantastic on the monitor, we await the results.

Here’s a picture from the top of the wall, not as detailed as the drone 🙂

guilloche Knots and swastika blocks

We have only done the first clean back to reveal the mosaics, we still need to go back over them cleaning again and then wet sponge them, the colours and patterns will then stand out.

Today we were joined by a volunteer and friend Jen and Allan a colleague of many years. Also we had a visit from another friend Stefan and his Dad, and as he had done finds washing last time we met, we found a good bit for him to have a go at digging. Stefan in 2016 pot washing and two years later digging, great job Stefan.

Pictured above another great tile and pot washer was Stefan who hopefully will be back to do more

Stefan excavating mosaic with expert guidance from Amy and Jen

Over on the other side of the trench a cry from Carol turns all heads, she had found her first roman coin, a very small and worn one but there is a figure on the reverse so the coin experts will be able to tell us a date.

Carol and her coin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day five – A little round thing

A cloudy start to the day but that didn’t put off the visitors, we had lots of children with many wonderful questions. Sue runs the finds washing section for us, this involves real excavated finds from the digs and all ages can help wash them and discover animal bone, pottery and get hands on with the tesserae.

Sue waiting for the next wave of youngsters to wash some finds from the dig

One very interested and enthusiastic girl called Trinity, was lucky to visit us when we had time and space to let her help us excavate a bit of the mosaic, Fay was having a late lunch with friends so we asked if Trinity could take her place for a while, Fay was very happy that she would have some help. Thank you Trinity you did a great job 🙂

Trinity finding the corridor mosaic

Trinity was joined by her mum

Meanwhile in the reception room, Jenni, Sarah, Carol, Nick, Emma, Martin and Pete were all in a line removing first the back fill from the mosaic condition survey in the year 2000, and then the next new area. As with all the trenches from the survey in 2000 they covered the mosaic with orange sand. This is horrid to remove but Pete and Jenni were not to be defeated and did a fantastic job and after a good sponge the potential staining was gone!

Jenni and Pete removing the orange sand

the contrast between the sponged area and the still sandy area

Rob has been working away in a corner of the site for a few days, removing back fill from a previous trench and then extending it. As often happens just near the end of the day and on a Friday, a lovely small find popped out. A coin, and this time it was roman!

Rob has a good eye for spotting the finds and we were able to get an instant identification for him as Prof Simon  Esmonde Cleary a specialist in Roman archaeology who also knows his coins had been visiting the excavations. He was just about to leave when it made its appearance. It is a Constantinus I gloria exercitus – Glory of the Army from AD 339/340,  but it is a contemporary copy made in the local area,

Rob in his trench just after his coin find

The coin

Oh and it rained, not a lot but enough to make the birds sing and to bring out food for them.

Pied wagtail with something juicy in its bill from our spoil heap

 

 

 

Day Four – Lets hear it for the walls

Hurrah! we have a bit more mosaic including another missing design, Steve Cosh the mosaic specialist, I am sure, will be happy to change his first ideas of the design at the east end of the reception room, when he sees what we have found, very exciting.

A knot of ‘pelta’ design

Martin joined Sarah, Andy, Nick, Carol and Pete in the reception room cleaning back the Victorian back fill. He started to find the top of a wall that lined up with the one just past the corridor threshold and along the side of the roman outer wall, that you can see already.

The top of the wall running up the picture with the outer abutting wall to the right

In the picture above you can also see some roman tile -the orange bits and some animal bone and half way up the very left edge a white object – an oyster shell. It looks like we have some roman layer that the Victorians left undisturbed, probably because the mosaic had run out they stopped digging.

Amy’s wall to her left running up the picture from her knee. With the one Martin found just beyond the threshold stones

Diggers all in a row

We may have a bit of rain overnight which will bring the mosaic to life and show all the different colours, we will see 🙂

 

Day Three – Willing helpers

Today we were joined by Adele and Jenny, to carry on uncovering the reception room mosaic, still hopeful that it would keep going ………. more later

Martin, Carol and Jenny removing the parched turf

We were also joined by a team from our head office, Heelis in Swindon, who were having a team day volunteering at the property. Sadly we did not have enough room for them to have a go at excavating so they offered to help with other jobs we had. The main one was to remove the bark chippings on top of the back filled area we had excavated in 2014, ready to uncover next week.

Team A making a start

Some of the team helped finish clearing away todays tarmac 🙂

Tarmac team

A happy team

Half of the top team!

Thank you all the Heelis team, you made a big difference and it is very much appreciated.

Now back to the mosaics and the news is………. no they have run out in one section! We have found a cement edging put down probably in the later part of the 20th century, but we don’t have full records of what exactly was done in some areas. It looks like it is repair work where the path had worn away above the mosaic. But the good news is we have started to get it appearing again, so as the saying goes tomorrow is another day.

Next to the wall it has disappeared and Jenny in the foreground is down onto the base layer that the tesserae was laid onto

View of the reception mosaic looking south

 

 

Day Two – Tesseraetastic!

Thankfully the day started cooler than yesterday and everyone had renewed energy to face more tarmac removal and turf cutting.

Fay and Amy being very careful when taking the turf off as the mosaics are not deeply buried and the roots from the grass enclose the tesserae and loosen them

In the reception room, Carol had cleaned of an area we had previously excavated and as she peeled back the geotextile we had put down there appeared a message from the past! Our past and recent past at that! A bag with things in from 2016. When we back fill a site we usually leave behind something to show we have been there, anything from 1 pence coin from the current year, broken pens, messages on plastic labels and even once a pair of old digging boots and the broken site teapot! It is to let future archaeologist know that someone has been there before them, a kind of ritual – there I have said that word 🙂 – closing of the site.

The message from the recent past

Stephanie and Lorna join us to clean back the reception room, the boarder of red and white stripes was in good condition and was carrying on intact. This was a hopeful sign that we may find more intact mosaic further into the room, where the full scheme of original patterns were mostly unknown. Small glimpses of what it maybe had been seen in previous small test holes to check the mosaics condition but there were gaps.

Stephanie and Lorna revealing the red and white boarder

Today was a very good day especially for Martin and I as we managed to get time to have a dig ourselves, which meant that Martin had the honour along with Pete, Carol, Stephanie and Lorna, of finding the new designs that had not seen the light of day since the Victorians covered it up after the excavation in the 1860s. A small section of guilloche  pattern and flower petal shape along with a pattern we already knew would be there, a shape we call an ‘egg timer’ due to the two triangle sections.

Lorna, Martin, Stephanie, Pete and Carol tacking off the soil above the more detailed patterns in the reception room

The guilloche design at the top of the photo and a diamond shape next to it then the flower petal below next to the ‘egg timer’ at the bottom of the picture

Meanwhile in the corridor Fay, Rob and Amy have been working away uncovering the checker board pattern which has just changed to a much more complicated design.

Fay Rob and Amy have done a brilliant job in the corridor and have exposed the checker board pattern and are now finding a different design in the next section.

Tomorrow we will start again removing more tarmac and turf first thing then its down on our knees to see what other designs we can find

 

 

 

 

Day One – Chedworth revisited

The sun beat down on the backs of the diggers, the Horse Flies bit, the insect repellant stung, joints creaked, but all was ok as we have mosaics! The first day of the dig and the mosaics are appearing from under the tarmac and turf.

The corridor and the reception room beyond

Some of the mosaic was covered by geotextile, as it had been excavated before, so we only needed to remove the soil on top and peel back the geotextile. At the threshold of the corridor we found the first section to uncover.

The geotextile with the impression of the tesserae that lay underneath

The reveal!

The side of the reception room, that abuts the threshold stones of the doorway to the corridor, has mosaic that is in good condition and the tesserae are large as it is the border of the room. Tesserae usually get smaller as the pattern gets more complicated in the centre of a room.

We had some tarmac to remove and found that like in other parts of the site where we lifted tarmac, it came in two layers. The older biscuit like, more stony tarmac is probably from the mid 20th century and the black, tar rich tarmac is from the 1980s.

The two types of tarmac the earlier one on the right

Tired, but happy we had managed to get started on such a hot day, we left the site ready for the new cohort of volunteers joining us tomorrow.

Mosaic on each side of the doorway between the corridor and reception room

ALERT – Return to Chedworth Villa – just one more time

This is the mosaic we will be revealing again and extending the dig to uncover the full 18m x 6m area of the reception room and part of the corridor beyond (the tarmac path in the background)

One week to go before we are back at Chedworth Villa for the final excavations around the North Range. We will be re visiting the 2014 excavations by uncovering the reception room mosaic and then working on the parts we left  unexcavated last time. The room measures 18m long by 6m wide and we hope more survives at the east end, so we will at last see the full extent of this very large room. We will be extending the trench down the north range corridor as well, and investigating a few more areas to hopefully answer a few questions while we have permission from Historic England.

Come along and see what else we find, we are excavating from the 9th July until the 27th July. Follow each day here on the blog and the property Facebook site . Hope to see you all soon 🙂