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Showing posts from May 6, 2012
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Will Ma. (there are so many named Will!) and his group find a bone die:

Since this is now the fourth day of the dig and everyone has seemed to be putting in hard work, the benifts are really paying off! The weather has held out, also, and it has been a great pleasure to excavate this week.


The finds that have been excavated today have been the best yet, including a stem of a clay pipe which was embossed with the Cheshire crest, a bone die plus countless animal bones and pottery including a number of pieces from the Roman era. This shows that the site is coming on leaps and bounds, but there is still a lot to do! There is still a section of fill that needs taking out and the Roman road to uncover.  Also the hearth and drainage sections needs finishing off and with a good portion of the site been troweled, we can now begin to excavated the archaeology that the students from years before us on thier digs had not reached.  Many of us are looking forward to the weeks to come - let the fun …

Week 1 Completed

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Matt W. reflects on his first week of digging:

Over the first week there have been many different activities that we have done. Day 1 was the 'day of digging,' which took a while to get used to, for a townie such as myself.  Through the back-breaking shovelling and intense heat the progress was hard, but fulfilling at the same time. Day 2 was mostly pulling up the canvas material from the site which we had dug down to the previous day; in the afternoon my group had a well earned rest. On day three we began the seemingly neverending task of scraping the site clean, which gave birth to the phrase 'there's always more dirt'. Even so, we kept scraping and came up with a few finds such as animal bone and pottery. The most exciting find I discovered was a musketball and a cow or horse's tooth. Ee also did site photography and touched up on our topography, where Mike B had a touching moment with a squirrel. Day 4 we did yet more scraping and learnt how to fill in a co…
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Emma discusses the end of week one:

Then there were two…


For the past two days the numbers in Group D have started to decline. Starting out as a group of four our numbers are now down to two. Hopefully those who were absent will return by Monday. Fortunately, we weren’t separated into different groups to do different jobs. Instead three of the four groups spent the morning scraping off the remaining topsoil to uncover the archaeological level that was discovered during last year’s excavation.

After our lunch break we started to dig down deeper into the archaeology. However, after about 30 minutes Tom, myself and some of the other guys were called out of the trench for a session on context sheets (we were off during the original session). The way we were sat around Uncle Simon was like we were more about to participate in storytime than a lesson in how to fill out context sheets. For those who are unaware of what a context sheet is, it is a very important document. When an area has be…

Found anything good yet?

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Lauren offers insight into treasure hunting: As the previous two days of our dig have been extreme opposites (one of beautiful sunshine and the other of heavy rain) today looked to be reasonably mild on the weather front. The majority of the day was spent on all fours in the mud clearing away the backfill from the site. Which leads me to some reflection on the finding of ‘treasure’. One of the most commonly asked questions of the public to archaeologists is “found anything yet?”. Although meant in good favour and mostly from someone who holds a genuine interest in our subject, it is so easy to get wrapped up in this obsession with finding something of worth. Even other archaeologists ask similar questions. Today’s task led to some interesting discoveries, on my part large amounts of animal bone in varying sizes. But my mind started to query the significance of such discoveries, what does this actually tell us about this site? That there were once animals here? Possibly, but all we have…

New Archaeology Number One

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Daniel W. (aka the Badger Man of day 1) provides an account of his day AND the next Christmas number one:

The sun edging through my not-properly-closed-blinds woke me. Startled I moved sharply, but I quickly regretted it. My muscles still sore from the sharp introduction to hard manual labour fought back keeping me rigid in bed but as I rolled over thinking of having an extra 10 minutes I saw the time. Again in near shock I moved again instantly regretting my decision, but this time I knew I had to ignore the stiffness and get moving. As I rushed through town, thinking about what awaited me, I glanced upwards to the sky hoping that yesterday’s rain wouldn’t be repeated; I was already running out of suitable clothes.


Surprised by my quickness I arrived in time, even with some to spare. I could have had that extra donut: “oh well” I thought as I took a wheelbarrow off Uncle Simon and began heading towards our site, which this morning resembled what I thought might make a good swimming p…

Puddle management

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Michael updates us on what happened on day three:

Following a night of torrential rain the prospects for today were not good, but apart from a shower in the afternoon the weather held off. The first job of the day was to get rid of excess water from the site and this was done with hand shovels and sponges…the latter being FAR more affective. Once the puddles had been soaked up, we continued towelling the site and the building foundations became clearer. That was how the day began and ended for us, Group B, but we also had a go at levelling and photography in-between. When setting up the dumpy level for the levelling we all took it in turns standing like lemons with the meter stick whilst someone else in the group took the readings. For my turn I was approached by several members of the public who seemed interested in what we were doing and were keen to hear about what had been found today. I was able to tell them about the various finds we unearthed earlier including a piece of unstra…

Hi ho - it's off to work we go

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James offers his view on days one and two:

Our first job on the site was to clear the remaining earth from the surface of the terram so that it could be removed. This meant whipping out the shovels and getting down to some digging! Suprisingly the sun did make an apearance, but its probably best not to get used to it.

At the end of the day it was great to see the progress we had made as the terram was peeled back revealing the excavation site that we would be working on and we will have to wait and see what things we find. Looking forward to the next few weeks!

An invitation!

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Tom gets philosophical:

Life and archaeology go together. 
How’s that one would ask? Because they are both full of lovely complex stratigraphy just waiting for someone to tell its story, just like the one we are going to have the opportunity to tell from this year’s Dig in Chester’s Grosvenor Park.


This year has given me the unique opportunity to view archaeology from a different perspective - from inside a trench -  and to be able to answer the questions I would usually ask an archaeologist.  Things like - what types of archaeology have you uncovered so far? What do you hope to find? Have you created your own interpretation about what’s going on in the archaeological record?

Hey you! Yes you, the public! When you’re out walking one day in the park and see our excavation going on don’t be afraid to come up to us and talk.  If you want to know what’s going on just ask, don’t be afraid. You might worry about what to ask, but we are students who worry about how to answer! The more you a…

The Soil Sausage Test

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Oli becomes one with mud:

After being attacked by a downpour of rain our chance of finally starting to get some archaeology revealed was sadly shut down and so we had to retreat back to the cabin where we had a session on how to write out context sheets. We learned the main purpose of the context sheets and how to fill each part out in depth. With excavation being destruction, it was essential to learn how to preserve as much of the evidence as we could and context sheets are our main written form of to preserve this knowledge. I think it was beginning to show how the dig was affecting people as being in that snug cabin after 2 hard days digging people were already beginning to drift off, not mentioning any names of course *cough* Daniel *cough*. We did however get an opportunity to get our hands dirty again in the second part of the session where we were taking soil and trying to understand how to classify it by looking at its texture, composition and malleability. Have to admit it w…

The trowels - they deserve respect

William provides musings on a varied day:

Our second day on the site managed to be surprisingly varied. After a morning session spent on site photography, we spent a while helping to excavate the trench, cutting back the fill from the previous years’ diggers (turning up a surprising amount of plastic – careless of them).


After a beautiful morning spent in these genteel pursuits, the heavens decided to open, and sent us scurrying back into the safety of Dee House, abandoning the trench in favour of a session on the proper use of a context recording form. Entirely necessary, but strangely uninspiring when you could be poking things with trowels.

(On that note, I am obliged by the mighty Jasmine to inform all and sundry that “Trowel-5” is a thing. Try it, you’ll enjoy it.)

Still, we did get to learn about soil classification, which satisfied our strange desire to muck around in the dirt (Dan W enjoyed this more than most).

The remainder of our group's day was devoted to a refresher…

Brenda and Agrippa arrive on site

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Calum and Joe fight through the rain for day two:

Today our group was first up for learning the basics of photography in archaeology. We tried and tested a range of different angles and locations to try and get the perfect picture of the entire site as well as some individual features. In the end we discovered that elevation was key and ended up standing on top of the spoil heap to get a top-down view of the whole trench.


The digging took on a new shape today as the last of the plastic covering was taken up from the trench. This really made a difference to the way the site looks as it began to take the form of a real dig and not just a mound of soil and grass!

The next stage then began as we had to scrape off the clayey compacted layer of soil that covered the main layer that we are going to excavate. This was a good chance to utilise the new trowels that we had bought in preparation for the dig. Some of the trowels have even been given names, ranging from “Brenda” to “Agrippa”! Unf…

Day one - muscle ache

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Daniel M. describes his first day on site:

The first day on the dig was brilliant. A great first day! The dirty-looking rain clouds moved away and we stayed dry the entire time - some of the students even cracking out the sun-cream.


The main job for the day was to carefully remove the remaining soil on top of the cover over the area of excavation. This had to be done without damage to the cover, which obviously didn't happen. (Meggen's note - its only plastic...)

The soil was then dumped on top of what is now a huge mound of mud. It got so big we had to create a path which circles around its ascent. When extending the path I found the biggest sherd of pottery of the day! Muscles definitely aching and can't wait for my lie-in tomorrow morning.

Prehistoric Flint Already?!?

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Sam gives us the highlights of day one:
Today was our first day at the dig site, and we were all a bit nervous as to what to expect, but once we got stuck in everyone found their own jobs to do and what had appeared a daunting task became a fun activity. We were digging down to the layer of Terram left by the previous year's excavation, and found a lot of interesting items. I personally found a lot of pieces of clay tobacco pipes, slipware, Samian ware, Burnished ware, glass, bone, and a musket ball.
I was very excited to find a piece of flint that Dan the Supervisor said is very likely to be prehistoric if it shows signs of having been worked. I can hardly wait to hear about the outcome of that.
It was very exciting to go into the dig today and to start finding artefacts straight away and I am very excited to see what we will uncover tomorrow.


Everyday I'm Shoveling

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Jasmine and Jonathan update us on their first day:

Today was the first day of the annual Chester University dig, in association with CWAC. Despite it being monsoon season in Chester of late, the sun actually came out for our first day of the job, and we were able to peel back the remaining spoil on top of the terram that covered last year's remains. Although it should be said that this feat would have been almost impossible without Dan the Badger Man, or Dan W as many of us know him, flying through the dirt and making almost as much mess as he was clearing away.
Over the course of the day we removed an excess of artefacts from the site ranging from clay pipes and slipware to musket balls that were found in the spoil heap. Tomorrow we should start excavating the layers under the terram, which include the foundations of a medieval out building.
Overall, everyone had a great day and are looking forward to the next few weeks. Hopefully the sun will keep shining.

Heads down - Jasmine,…

It Begins!

Well, the trench is open and the new diggers are beginning their journeys to understand why we get so excited about changes in soil colour and texture...
This year's excavation is not only about trying to figure out the riddles of the past underneath the soil in Grovesnor Park, but also about getting the word out about archaeology in Chester.  You might just have heard of something called the Olympics (!) and on May 29th we are lucky enough to have the Olympic torch passing through Chester - and it will go right by the trench! So on May 29th in the afternoon we'll be having our Dig Open Day and we invite everyone to come down to have a closer look at the archaeology including opportunities to handle some of the finds from the park.  If you can't make it down on the 29th and find yourself in Grosvenor Park this May, you can still peek through the fence and ask questions of our diggers.  We're happy to talk about what we are doing and what we've found.  Let us know y…