This is Deva - Chestival report
The excavation has officially finished, but there was still work to be done. The Chestival extravaganza engrossed the city with one of the main focal points being the hoards of re-enactors that filled Grosvenor Park to the brim. The Romans and the Celts had come to town, (although I use those terms loosely) bringing with them a feeling of wonderment that captivated all visitors. As part of the recreated Roman military camp that occupied the park, with tents ranging from those of surgeons to that of a blacksmith, our excavation featured prominently in activities available to visitors. Much like the open day, a plethora of information was made available to the public, including site tours, ‘Create a tile’, the wondrous Mini Dig and the now world famous 'Dumpy Level Arcade' featuring alongside the finds tables, colouring sections and information point.
The first day began as it ended, drenched in blistering sunshine. The day was glorious, and sure enough the crowds began to flock into the park even as the set-up was still taking place. With the furious heat of the day raining down, it was a test of our strong-willed team of hardy volunteers to appease the crowds and ignite their own interests in archaeology. All members of the archaeology team taking part were busy from the outset with scarcely any time to catch our breath as the curious visitors inquired into our activities of the past four weeks. Even after enjoying various beverages the previous evening as a celebration of the completion of our excavation, the team stood strong and once again appeased the masses.
The most popular of the activities once again proved to be the Mini Dig enthralling (almost) all participants; whereas the Dumpy Level arcade seemed to have suffered a fall from grace as many visitors shunned its delights in favour of the Mini Dig. As the day began to wind down, due to most visitors choosing to attended the gladiatorial battles taking place in the amphitheatre in the afternoon, the volunteers had time to ponder the day’s events and give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back. The expectation of 10,000 visitors to the park could very well have been met - it was a triumphant success.
The following day was predicted “to be a different animal”, and that it was. The day began grey and glum with showers. This seemed to create a different atmosphere in the camp - it had nothing to do with the fact that several of the voluntary group had enjoyed another evening, night and early morning of pleasant revelry following the first days success! The team came fully prepared to commit themselves as they had done previously; alas, this was not necessary. There were not the same multitudes of the Saturday event, but the team still did a sterling job of informing and entertaining any visitors. The number of people visiting the site did amplify in the early afternoon as the clouds began to fade slightly and glimpses of the prior day’s warmth began to be seen. Following this the crowds swiftly headed to the amphitheatre for more gladiatorial bouts and so by late afternoon it was clear the day, at least for us, was over.
I would like to thank all the visitors to the site on both of these days. You made it the success it was and also a tip of the cap to all those following the blog online. Also a large Thank You to the organisers and supervisors from CWAC HET: Gary, Jane and Julie. And last, but by no means least, I would personally like to thank all of the volunteers who did a tremendous job on both days. It was a pleasure to work alongside you (except Mike). I believe this was a marvellous way to finish off our four weeks of excavation, and in the words of the great Terry Tibbs: 'Thank you, good night, much love.'
p.s Only kidding Mike... but not really.