We have had fabulous weather out at Truckle Hill. Most days everyone out at site has needed to put on sun screen. Today is the exception. It was raining hard when we all arrived on site, and making the clay in our main trench very sticky and slippery.
So, what do you do when it rains like this? You keep the kettle boiling, gather under the gazebo, and hope for a dry spell. When the weather clears again you can get in the trench and dig. Until then, you chat.
During the day that I have been gone the identity of the base, first a column, then an altar, has changed again. The base is now being identified as the base for a statue, which is estimated to have been either 3/4 size or life size. Unfortunately no hint of the statue itself has been found. The flagstone surface alongside one of the forecourt walls has been entirely uncovered, and though incomplete, looks remarkable. Animal bones have also been discovered in amongst a collection of roof tiles that have been revealed in one of the trench sections.
The rain eventually let up a bit, and reduced to a light, wet mist. It was just enough for a few people to get into the trench and continue working. In one section of the main trench rubble and clay were still being removed to reach the surface of the flagstone paving. In another, an investigation of some of the re-exposed painted wall plaster was undertaken. A group of volunteers formed a bucket line from the edge of the trench, to the few who were down on their hands and knees in the sticky clay. We were trying to make sure people didn’t have to walk around in the trench too much. The people stood in the trench, stationary, waiting for the next bucket, soon discovered that the clay was not entirely willing to give up contact with the bottom of their work boots. The sound that lifting a foot out of the clay made eventually got dubbed ‘the indescribable squidge.’ Even with the bucket lines formed, however, there wasn’t quite enough digging work for everyone with the ground so wet. One pair of volunteers took the time to try and identify the coin using an iPhone that had signal and the magnifying glass from utility knife.
Using water that had been collected throughout the day from the run-off of the site shelter Phil took the time to clean any remaining dirt (now mud) from the statue base. The base almost shone once the dirt had been cleared. A groove on the bottom piece of the base marking out a rough square surface where the top half should have rested became very clear. The top piece of the statue base has either shifted in the ground, or was never placed exactly where it was meant to be. With the base clean the two volunteers that worked so hard to reveal it posed for a photo that will be used on the cover of this year’s site report.
We made it, working very slowly and very little in the wet conditions, until afternoon break. Then it started to rain again. We escaped the rain to have one last cup of tea, and it was decided that it was time to call it a day.
Here is hoping that tomorrow, the last day of excavation, will have blue skies.