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Tuesday 14th May: On Day 6 it’s Happy Birthday to Helen, and Michael, Liz, Marc and Rafie reflect on the day as digging starts in earnest

Michael describes finding the wrong type of bone?
Today saw the true beginnings of archaeological excavation on the site itself. Areas such as the supposed burial area yielded bone finds, but not the type bones that were believed to be buried there. As for myself, today, I, and other members of my group, continued to place grid points around the outside of the excavation site. Once this was completed, we were instructed to construct a plan drawing, by using a 1 meter grid square, of an area that had not been planned during previous excavations. This was easily accomplished after the sense of scale had been established by my group. After the plans were complete, my group then set about utilising the dumpy level in order to calculate the different stratigraphic levels of the site.
After lunch, my group was given the task to remove a layer at the edge of the site, which was believed to contain the continuation of the wall that had been uncovered in other areas in previous years. After a few minutes of excavation, the edge of this wall was discovered and appeared to continue into the section of the trench, which would mean that the excavation site would have to be extended in future years, if the remaining sections of the wall were to be uncovered and interpreted.
There was also no shortage of finds that were discovered by not only my group, but other groups as well. The majority of finds today appear to be bones, primarily animal bones which my group uncovered when searching for the wall. However, another group discovered an animal jawbone and large leg bones which were well preserved.
Overall, it was another day that was interesting and offered a wide range of activities for my group. I hope that this continues to be so.

Liz delves deeper:
After finally completing cleaning the whole site, everybody got a chance to excavate today. Liam and I started to excavate an area which was believed to have contained a hearth and a fireplace. Excavating the area took all day as there was a lot of material to move in order to get to the sandy layer where the fireplace is thought to be. The best find of the day has to go to Ben who discovered a complete animal skull!

Marc’s rain-dance pays off:
It appears that my half-naked midnight anti-rain dance last night paid off as the day dawns bright and fair if but a little on the chilly side and day 6 of our dig beckons.  The site is now actually really starting to resemble an archaeological excavation and I must say that now the dig has started proper, the sense of purpose that each morning brings is palpable. After spending most of yesterday trowelling out a possible small grave site I was looking forward to getting down another 3 feet and hopefully finding human remains but it wasn’t to be as this morning was to be spent in the finds room at Albion Street, cleaning the artefacts from the last several days. What I thought would be a lesson in tedium, actually turned out to be very interesting particularly as the intricacy of detail on some of the finds became more apparent once the mud and soil was washed away. What also surprised me was the variety of artefacts we had discovered, with sherds dating back to Saxon times nestled amongst Roman samian ware and 17th Century clay pipe (of which there was loads!!).

Once I had put my marigolds (rubber gloves) away and had lunch, we resumed our duties on the dig site where (a little to my disappointment) I discovered that my grave had been worked on vigorously by two of my colleagues and much progress had been made to reach the bottom.........which was empty, save for a beautifully preserved piece of Roman Samian ware with an intricate horse detail on it. Bearing in mind we had been told that the grave could well have been that of a small child, I was in a small way, a little relieved that no remains had been found.....I guess I'd better toughen up! The rest of the afternoon I spent excavating a patch which revealed some interesting Roman brick work as well as more sherds and a load of animal bones, dating mostly back to late medieval times. As a group we are all getting the feeling that the old Roman road is getting very near and we may just be in store for a few surprises.......here’s hoping!

Rafie enjoys finding things…
Day 6. In the morning my team had the first session on finds with Julie. We had a first-hand experience in labelling finds, recognising materials and washing those that could be washed!
We had great time washing different pieces of pottery, clay pipe, glass and bone, and Julie explained us how to recognize basic features in order to give a first attempt of dating.

After the break, we joined the others on site and we carried on troweling and digging on the site. While digging up some of the features we came across very interesting finds, which was really exciting because for some of us was the first chance to excavate new archaeological features. Some amazing pieces of bones were found, especially a possible skull of a horse and some pieces of pottery, such as amphorae and bits of ceramic decorations. While some people were taking up new features, other started to do some sketches and plans of the site and to take measurements with the dumpy level.

Now that we are really into the archaeological job, we are all looking forward to dig more, find new features and get involved in all the different archaeological tasks on site!