Day 19 – The end for now ….

The core team left to right Stephanie, Fay, Rob, Amy, Carol, Martin, Pete and Me

Well, we reached the last day and had a few last jobs to do as well as back-filling the trenches. Martin had recording, drawings and the odd extra bit of digging to do, to answer a few questions in the buttress trench. Fay and Amy had a little more digging in the bath house trench to find the wall, and the rest of us had finds and tools to pack up.

We have to record everything by scale drawing and photography, as once its dug out we cannot go back to check any details.

In the buttress trench Martin has been finding lots of painted plaster including different blues and greens. Then he found this large piece, amazing colours and design.

In the buttress trench Martin has found lots of lovely painted plaster, mainly blues, but then he found this stunning piece

A close-up of the plaster

One job we had to do was to put in a little extension to find out how big the water tank was, it turned out to be quite small, but perfectly formed. We also found the outlet hole!

The extent of the tank

 

The tank  had slipped forward, note the crack in the lower right

The outlet hole

The last trench to be filled in was the buttress trench, we protected the tank with geotextile, then left messages for future archaeologists to find, in an empty bottle of fizz we had for Amy’s 21st birthday.

For future archaeologists to find

Nearly there

Also on the last day we had another birthday to celebrate – Pete’s. So it was a double celebration and a big cake provided by lovely Sue, who had been doing all the finds washing for us, thank you Sue.

When you only have a grubby wooden knife a trowel has to do

As we put back the last turf we had our last visitor, a frog that had managed to survive the back filling and the heat!

Our last visitor

As they say ‘that’s all folks’ for daily up dates from the dig, but Martin will do a summing up of the dig and we will post updates of the finds when we have their stories back from the specialists. So keep checking in.

All that’s left to say is a massive thank you to all our volunteers who came to dig with us and especially those who helped with the mammoth back filling task. We hope you all enjoyed your experience. Thank you to all our blog followers, and its been lovely to meet many of you on-site, your kind words helped to keep us going through the hottest parts of the day.

Until next time………

 

Day Thirteen – Feathered friends

The end is near and we still have a bit of excavation to do, luckily the mosaics are cropping up again just when we thought  they had ended.

Amy uncovering the new section of mosaic

We finally removed the last of Sir Ian Richmond’s representation of the earlier villa walls, his pink concrete! Behind this was the real roman wall and a line of mosaic still in place balanced on the edge.

The burnt, earlier villa wall with a line of tesserae still in place

Max, Steve, and  Stephanie carried on the big clean up in the relenting heat. Jill and Amy each had an area of mosaic to uncover and Fay was banished to a small trench up next to the bathhouse. Guy and William took on the challenge to keep going down through the roman rubble layer in the buttress trench near the museum, where they found lots of painted wall plaster and some intriguing stonework (more about it tomorrow)

Steve and Max cleaning the corridor mosaic

 

William and Guy in the buttress trench

Now to our feathered friends, during this dry spell we have been providing a small buffet for the birds, here are our clever friends who have taken advantage of the insects and worms we have disturbed. The star is Bob the Pheasant 🙂

Lovely pair of Pied wagtails foraging on the spoil heap

The scruffy Robin is very brave finding food right next to us as we dig

Bob with Amy at lunch time, sharing a biscuit

A portrait of Bob

 

Day 12 – Rogues gallery

Here as promised are the ‘small finds’ we have found over the last few days 🙂

 

A coin, worn but enough remains for a coin expert to identify

The reverse of the coin with a bit more detail.

Another coin, very clear, you can read the lettering. Probably IMP TETRICUS PF AVG, so probably Tetricus I rather than Tetricus II, who ruled the separatist Gallic empire from AD271-274 Thanks Pete for the identification

The reverse of the Tetricus coin

And the next coin, very worn on the obverse,

The reverse has a little bit of detail, hopefully enough for an identification

The last of the coins and this one is worn and probably beyond identification

Not a coin but a lovely piece of roman glass, part of the rim of a bowl maybe.

Last but not least is a hob nail, from a roman shoe, it was found between tow loose tesserae in the corridor mosaic. Avery fine example of its type!

 

Day Eleven – Hasten, Hasten fetch a basin

Quick, quick the cats been sick, hasten, hasten fetch a basin, too late, too late the carpets in an awful state

The  old rhyme my Mum used to say when I was a child in Yorkshire, was brought to mind by a find today. After the find of the carved stone we checked every large stone we had found in the roman rubble layer, but found no more. Then we turned to the stone still in the layer and yet to be dug up, there was a large curved one which when we got to it also looked to have a hollow section. It looked quite crudely  carved, and was badly fractured. We finally managed to remove it and found it was a kind of stone basin.

The carved stone next to Carol still in situ

The stone ‘basin’

Today we started on the big clean up, David and Eirian came to help us today, and did a fantastic job, cleaning the mosaics and the bottoms of the walls. They checked areas that still needed a little bit more soil removing, and sponged the mosaics. Thank you both, great work.

David next to his lovely shining mosaic, the colours really sing

We also had a visit from our  line manager, and team – curators, registrar, collections and most important our lovely business support. They set too as part of the big clean up and each did a section. More great work 🙂

Our Team

Our Team

our team

Tomorrow I will update you all on the rest of the special finds we have so far, so come back to find out about the small things 🙂

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 Six – Glass half full

After the excitement of the coin yesterday the six of us knuckled down to the tasks in hand. Rob headed back to his trench next to the Buckeye tree wondering if he would have another lucky day. Martin spent the first part of the day adding to his measured plan of the site. He took of his boots so he could tread carefully around the mosaic.

Martin working on his measured plan of the site note no boots just socks – respect the mosaic 🙂

As for the rest of us – well the mosaic may have disappeared on one side but it reappeared on the wall side! and carried on and on into the next panel.

Amy on the left, with Stephanie and Pete working on the mosaic on the right

Amy and Martin, found that the potential untouched roman layer with roof tile, bone, pot and shell had also run out and was replaced by a very fine sandy soil that was probably Victorian, Martin found a broken, black glass, faceted button of a typical late Victorian type on the edge of this layer. We had an exciting moment when Amy found mosaic in her area that looked as if it went under the roof tile layer, it was in very good condition. So after we record the spread of this layer we will remove it and fingers crossed we will find more!

Amy’s mosaic

Once again late in the day Rob calls me and heads over with something in his hand, he has found some vessel glass, what looks like part of the foot piece of a roman drinking vessel! Top trench and top volunteer (32 years working with us)

Rob with his glass

At the end of the day I had a headache so as Doctor Quintus was at the Villa I went to see if he could help, but after seeing his tools and what he suggested I though just a long drink of water was the best cure!

Some of the Doctors tools

 

The good Doctor

Last but not least Chris, Stephanie’s husband who could not join us digging due to harvesting, managed to get some time to become the ice cream man and  arrived with a bag of lollies to keep us going for the next few days! As he had done such a good deed I let him take over my bit as I had to help Martin do some levels, on the plans he had drawn and check on Rob. I think he was happy 🙂

Thanks Chris you can visit anytime

Chris, Stephanie and Pete doing a great job uncovering more mosaic

 

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