Tuesday 7 September
I was told before the excavation started that very few finds are recovered on this site. When I arrived today, however, not only did I find the main trench transformed, and that five new trenches had sprung up around it, but also found full finds trays! The previous day, I have been told, was not so prosperous with only one find during the entire day. That one find, however, was rather nice – the head of a bone pin.
In the main trench the dark burnt material from the crop drier has been almost entirely excavated. It has created a large pile of black earth that will be used to cover over any exposed walls. This will help to protect the walls from the winter frost. It is the burnt black material that has yielded a good amount of Roman pottery. It has also made quite a mess of the people excavating the area. They are still down on hands and knees excavating the last remains of this sooty soil.
In another section of the main trench a nice collection of almost complete roof tiles have been exposed, one of them with the nail head still in place. The collection has allowed us to create a little demo roof on the side of one of our spoil heaps.
The small trenches that have sprung up are all investigating walls. Three of them have been opened to confirm the path of walls that were uncovered in previous years. The other two have been opened up to confirm the route of walls that have proved not to go in the predicted direction. One of the walls was supposed to turn south approximately where the edge of this year’s main trench is. But this year’s surprise so far is that instead of turning it continues on, into the hill and towards the villa, and possibly off into the woods. It is possible that it could be the outside wall of a forecourt to one of the pre-bath house buildings.
Despite the amount of work taking place on site the mood of everyone excavating is jovial. I wandered around the site taking pictures and asking questions for this blog, and stumbled on one particularly entertaining conversation regarding who the bath house had belonged to. The nearby villa seems the most obvious choice, but the villa is known to have had its own en-suite bath. As the valley does get quite cold during the winter and would be a bit of a walk from the villa, the (joking) decision was that the lady of the villa insisted on an en-suite as she was not willing to walk down the hill to perform her bathing routine.
The day’s work concluded, happily, with a new research question: Was there a forecourt to one of the earlier buildings? Despite some rather sticky clay, and some very sooty hands and faces, everyone seems encouraged to have found a new theory to investigate. This week of excavation will hopefully confirm this new theory.