We're back for our 11th season during which examination of trench IV will be continued. Our work will examine the interior of the masonry building (the possible chapel) with its drain discharging into the ditch, the western part of the ditch feature where it is overlain by the medieval building and the underlying deposits. This year trench IV will also be extended to the south in order to locate and examine a stone structure identified during the excavation of a service trench in 2013.
Keep up to date with all the discoveries, brought to you by our daily bloggers.
Saturday, 22 May 2010
Meggen writes -
What a great day on site. We didn't get too much digging done, but new features did emerge today including what looks like another ditch parallel to our first one! Not quite sure what is happening yet but we've got four more days of digging next week to try and figure it out.
The big event today was our Saturday Open Day. From 10am we had a pretty steady stream of visitors getting site tours, looking at and even helping us wash finds, making their own dig-inspired medieval floor tiles and the smaller would-be archaeologists excavated in their own 'mini-dig.' The sun beat down all day, my shoulders are sunburnt and I don't think I sat down once in 6 hours. Thankfully I had a great bunch of archaeology students (including some helpful final year students) and a group of history students really doing all the hard work. We hope everyone enjoyed it!
Karen adds -
Wow! Another amazing day both in the weather and our Open Day!
Our full Open Day started as the heat climbed even higher than yesterday! We had many visiters to our site, all of whom were very interested in what we were doing in the trench. The finds, excavated in the Park over the years, were much admired especially as some were able to make their own Medieval tile with the Potter and compare them with the real tile. All the students, archaeology and history, worked so hard and continued to keep a smile on their faces!
Some, we discovered, had hidden talents - like Hayley who 'wowed' the future young archaeologists. Others, like Michael C. was an absolute hit with a group of lively ladies celebrating a 'Hen-Party' ..... I think he is still recovering from the shock of that experience!
As for our supervisors, they were unflagging in their enthusiasm and cheering us on as we began to wilt slightly towards the end of the day!
Oh yes - archaeology and the dig. We did find a possible feature that is running parallel to the boundary ditch, which we hope to find out more next week whe we go back on Tuesday.
Friday, 21 May 2010
Hayley updates us for Friday -
Today was scorching hot, it felt like we were sat in a sauna! However, it is the best weather we've had so far on the dig so I shouldn't complain.
This morning the groups were excavating and clearing up the site in preparation for the afternoon. We were all very tired from the heat, but inspiration came in the form of Meggen's amazing cookies and brownies to rally us on.
The afternoon was a great success with the first public open day. There were numerous vistors to the site; unfortunately not many kiddies to try out the mini dig as they were most likely in school, but hopefully there will be a lot more tomorrow. Fingers crossed for another glorious day!
Nick writes -
The group started the day off with photography, our second session of this. We took some pictures of the whole site from several angles, and they turned out great.
By lunchtime the sun was soaring as we had a bit of a heat wave on site; the suntan lotion was applied and we got to work setting up our open day. Activities such as finds washing and mini digs were held, with a reasonable turn out. By the looks of things today, we should have a very busy day tomorrow.
Karen writes -
Well - summer has come and I want it to be cold again, please!
We had a busy morning trying to plan. As always, Jonathan and I take our time and care.....after a false start of course! We needed to do this so the context could be taken down to the next one.
In the afternoon we had the first of the Open Day sessions. As the temperature soared it was like watching one of David Attenborough's programmes - the march of the ants! Chester was subjected to interestingly dressed students carrying tables, chairs and wheel-barrowing items needed for the afternoon.
A good time was had by all - especially by the more loquacious of us! Although there were not many children - in fact only one turned up to be a future Indiana Jones and tackle the treasures of our mini trench! Her daddy really enjoyed it! Many people were very interested in the finds and to learn about the dig and interpretation of the site so far.
Thursday, 20 May 2010
Gary D and Mike C report -
Today was 'Cheese Club' day and we all brought to site different cheeses with various crackers, grapes and olives. Was great - only problem was that we ate so much cheese no one wanted to do any digging afterwards!! We managed to get some planning done in trench VI of the possible boundary ditch and associated contexts. Once the dairy products had settled, some light digging in trench VII also filled the afternoon. Not many finds today, but hopefully more to come tommorrow.
Meggen writes -
I can't believe three weeks have gone already. Tomorrow afternoon is the first of our 'open days' so today was spent doing errands for that, an radio interview for local station Dee 106, trying to get the satellites to co-operate for our GPS (they didn't), generally teasing the students in the afternoon to make them work faster and baking up a storm this evening to keep them all happy tomorrow! I swear that baking isn't in my contract....
Make sure if you are in Chester on Friday or Saturday you stop by the park and say hello! Let us know if you've been keeping up with the blog and get a tour of the trenches, a chance to look at our finds and we've even got some activities to keep little ones happy.
Wednesday, 19 May 2010
Rachel writes -
This morning saw Group A in Albion Street with the finds. We bagged up the finds that we had marked and wrote labels to go with them so we know what they are and where they came from. Jonathan and I then went on to wash some finds, which is very therapeutic!
After luch we were back on site and doing some section drawings of the pipe cut in trench VII. We set up the level to see if our section string was straight and after a slight mishap with the levelling staff (one member of the group managed to pull it apart), we found that everything was as it should be. The weather today was cloudy but at least we managed to stay dry.
Mike D reports -
It was a rather quiet morning on site as one of the groups was working away from the site on the finds, and a few were off ill. So, a few of us were given the job of levelling out the surface in trench VI. This unfortunately wasn't easy mattocking as the ground was full of thick, stubborn rocks. Around mid-morning, we moved on to trowelling, but the earth was quite crumbly so I couldn't help thinking we were making things worse.
After a steak pasty and quick read about the troubles at Arsenal FC, we headed back to the dig site. Maria and I were under the impression that we would be excavating that afternoon, but Simon asked us to finish off a plan left by Hayley and Jenny. We rose to the challenge; finishing off all necessary squares whilst discussing the assignment due for tomorrow.
Thanks again to Aaron today for returning from Tesco's with chocalate and jam doughnuts!
Jonathan writes -
The day started with finds in the morning for group A. This session played to the strenghts of an obsessive sorter and cataloger such as myself. While these sessions are relativly stress free in the work that you are doing, they do show how much effort and work has to be done with all the objects that are found on site - something that some people don't consider when thinking about the excavations. In the afternoon section drawing was on the menu for group A, something that I don't think is my forte. Whilst today was not high on new findings for group A, a lot was accomlished in terms of the more mundane (from the perspective of most people) tasks, which are things that explorers of the dirt find interesting.
Tuesday, 18 May 2010
Dean's account of the day -
The sun does strange things to people. As temperatures soared, the great and the good of Chester seemed to spring into life, with an above average amount of visitors to the dig today. Whilst heckles of "stupid architects!" and "have you found any mummies?" might bring the school system into question, the majority of visitors were genuinely interested and had an impressive grasp of their local heritage.
To round off a vistor-packed afternoon, Ron Dixon of 'Brookside' fame came to have a nose at the archaeology; although, those born after 1990 had no idea who he was. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Sinbad or Jimmy Corkhill.
Jenny writes -
We all started off the morning doing excavation, but did not do this for long as we had an interesting talk about how to do soil sampling and why it is important. My group then did another photography session, which also involved creating some humourous 'action' shots of both our team and the other team on site by getting people to obviously pose as if they were working (not that they weren't working haha!). The weather has put everyone in a good mood and has brought more people out to the park and so we are getting more interest in our dig .
Meggen comments -
Work is progressing well. Yesterday was all action, but today's progress was a bit more laid-back. Our recent water pipe in Trench VII appears to have a new element to it, which we've been able to see as the soil dries. It looks like it is either sitting in a recut of a bigger trench or we have another rather large feature or deposit to explore.
I haven't been able to be on site much this week due to office commitments. I fear the students are getting restless, as they were demanding baked goods and imported American snack cakes! At least they are still working hard.
Monday, 17 May 2010
Maria updates us on the start of week three:
Today we finally had sun! My group started off the morning taking various photographs of different trenches from up a ladder and on the ground at different angles. Doing this, I learned that I am definitely no David Bailey! In the afternoon we split up into two pairs and planned different features, which took a very looong time! A good day to start the week so far!
Ross tells us about his day:
Finally some sunshine! Perfect weather for digging and planning (and a pre-work kickabout!). Not perfect, however, for photography, as those of us in group D soon discovered. As shadows crept forth from all the nooks and crannies and into the corners of our shots, the blazing sun cast its glare upon every reflective surface and down the lens of our camera. Otherwise it was quite a productive morning as we learned how to compensate for the shadows and frame a better picture.
The afternoon was to be spent planning features and our group was split into two. As Mike D and Danny moved into trench VII and the shade of a large tree, Maria and I ended up in the open area of trench VI, drawing a plan of a patch of mortar and clay. The many lumps and bumps of the feature, which had to be meticulously planned, combined with the blazing heat made this something of a frustrating experience. Needless to say we were ecstatic when it was finished!
Although we had no interesting finds, Aaron came across what appeared to be a floor tile bearing a Lion's face - face down in the dirt it could have easily been taken as a simple piece of rubble and cast into the spoil heap. Well done to Aaron for taking the time to examine it!
Aaron describes his find:
Today was a full day of excavation for group A with us removing the fill of the cut, which Group B was doing at the end of last week. We believe it to be the robbed out remains of the original boundary that divided the church from the lands beyond.
My prize find today was a decorated tile with what could ether be a stylised lion or a chap with a funny beard. (See my picture above!)