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 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 Ten – Stone, nails and Caleb’s knife

I arrived late after my day off, due to a baby gull rescue just as I set off from home, the joys of coastal living 🙂 to find the gang working very hard de-turfing and then clearing the back fill from 2014.

After morning break it was all back into the main trench, with Amy and Fay banished to the corridor and Rob to the buttress trench. Les, Carol A, Pete, Jackie, Janette, Nick, Carol L and me lined up to take the last areas of the top soil and then the rubble from the collapse of the roman building away.

All in a line, going, going gone

Amongst the usual finds of pottery, tile, bone and tesserae we found lots of nails, and by plotting them we realized they were all the same kind and  in a line. Could this have been were a beam had fallen and rotted away leaving only the nails? We need to have a specialist check what type of nail they are and what they would have been used for.

I once again had chance to do a bit of digging myself and after removing many stone roof tile fragments I came across a chunky stone that looked like it had been shaped on two sides for using in a wall. As I turned it over I noticed some notches, then they looked like a flower and maybe another smoothed of part below. I cautiously showed it round and the conclusion was it was definitely a carved!

A happy me with the stone

close-up of the carving

Another roman coin popped out Carols second, again quite worn, it will have to wait for a coin specialist to have a look before we can get its date. Janette had a good find while cleaning back round the steps from the bath house, maybe we can reunite it with its owner, Caleb.

Caleb has lost his penknife! I wonder what hi is peeling his apples with now!

Packing up at the end of the day we found an artwork entitled  ‘archaeologists detritus’

Archaeologists detritus

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

 

 

 

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 🙂