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

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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!

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Neck and lip of one of the bottles

 

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Allan with his find

 

Alex in the second trench to produce a bottle

Day 6: Chedworth 5 more trenches

Best to begin with the hard graft so we started the day by taking the turf off some more trenches.

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There are now windows into Rooms 29( the room next to the mosaic room)..29a..a lobby? or stairway and the kitchen 30.

The other two were on the north side outside the villa against the slope. One between 30 and 29a, to check the theory that the North Range was extended in the late 4th century

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and the other at the junction of the hypocaust stone sentinel pilae room 26 and the apsidal room to the west 25. We are looking to discover which came first and whether there are stoke holes to provide heat for underfloor heating.

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Then it was time for tea. Kindly brought to us from the kitchen in the Lodge. This is rather a luxurious excavation.

Then it was back to teasing out what remains of the mosaic in room 28…to finish recording all the stratigraphic details in the trench 5c in the NE corner of Room 27 and to wonder at Pete’s trench 5d in the SE corner which has very different layers below the same 4th century floor surface. Deep dark pottery bearing soil cut by the foundation trench of the partition wall between 27 and 28.

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At lunch time a discussion took place concerning why Spock, Captain Kirk and Dr McCoy are always in the landing party when they are the senior officers on the Enterprise and whether they had violated the prime directive in the last episode…

and what the names of the bean like things in the mosaic roundels were called… I have read Steve’s mosaic report now… they are heart-shaped petals and the room may once have been a summer dining room.

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Day 5: Chedworth’s Room 27

We have concentrated on the mosaic in Room 28 but over the next couple of weeks we will open a number of trenches within the central rooms of the Chedworth’s North Range 2.¬† Numbers 27-30. We want to know more about how this part of the villa worked and how the building was extended to the east during the 3rd and 4th centuries.

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At the moment we are looking in the east corners of Room 27.

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Ranging rod in the NE corner of Room 27 next to the mosaic room 28

We found that very little of the original floor survived but along the north edge we discovered just the last trace of the original opus signinum pink cement floor (no mosaic here).

There were fragments of baked clay in mortar but not the smooth solid level floor which would have been the original surface. The bottom edge of the wall plaster was sandwiched between this and the original Roman wall and it lay above the make up layers of the floor..a fine mortar crust above a crushed layer of limestone fragments set in mortar.

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Above the Roman nail (bottom left) and the bird skull (bottom centre) is the white line of the mortar bedding for the remnants of the opus signinum floor (orange red bricky bits)which lies against the line of wall plaster in front of the Roman wall (top right).

This lay above the natural limestone bedrock but this had been cut by the foundation trench for the wall between 27 and 28.

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The floor remnant overlying the foundation trench which had been cut through the creamy yellow natural limestone.

So the¬†Roman builders cut a trench…built the wall in it….filled the trench and then laid the floor surfaces.

Excitement! A coin found in the foundation trench filling would date the wall construction….¬†Little bits of bird and fish¬†bone, a black piece of Roman pottery, couple of bits of painted¬†plaster but no coin this time. We collected bits of charcoal so we could radiocarbon¬†date the construction but¬†not precise enough really. A result of some time from the 3rd to the 5th century would not be¬†very helpful.

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The east wall (right) overlies the north  wall (top) which has a different rust coloured mortar.

What¬†we could¬†say is that the¬†east wall boundary with 28 was built after the north wall as it’s¬†stones were¬†built over the¬†north wall’s footing. The mortar is¬†a different rusty colour and has been¬†cut away by the east wall foundation trench. Traces of an earlier, lower floor¬†also cut away by the trench.

Ahhhh, the¬†beauty of archaeological relationships and recording sequences of events in the right order (admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea)

But anyway. Here again is the star of the show… the Room 28 mosaic at the end of day 5….

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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