Showing posts from 2014
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Closing time

After a rigorous, laborious, mainly wet but sometimes sweltering hot, banter-filled season, the 2014 season of the CAER Project has now come to a close. But coverage doesn't end here - stay tuned for a summary of what we found, and what we plan to do next!

And now with the last word from Team 2014:

After a tiring and challenging day, the four weeks of digging is now over *sobs*. Today wrapped up what has been an incredible experience for all of us.

In the morning, we started out by cleaning up our beloved site and making it suitable for photographic recording, which in itself was very exciting to do. We took site photos with SLR cameras and ensured the pictures were of the best quality!

After lunch, we were approached by a great amount of very interested public, who had made it just in time to share with us the last moments of our site. After this, we began covering our beautifully trowelled features to make way for the new eager archaeologists who will take our place next yea…

Day 17: The end is nigh

The end of dig recording is in full swing, but still the digging continues, if only for one more day!

The main work of the day was drawing sections of the ditch that we're excavating and filling out context sheets, which contain descriptions of an archaeological feature which will combine with several other context sheets to give an overall account of the site. For us this meant measuring the features found in the pit and putting these onto a grid map. With the use of a measuring tape we then measured the distance to the edges of the trenches to get their coordinates. At the end of the day we used the dumpy level to record the different heights of the trench to get a relief plot of the different parts of the site. This can often be dull work, but needed to be done: as they say, no pain no gain!

Today for the first half of the day was the final session on the finds which was the bagging up of the marked finds and the recording of the more decorated finds such as the stam…

Day 16: Fancy a pint?

The remains of the medieval and early modern past are revealing themselves quickly now that we've only got a few days to go! The name of the game now is to step back and record what we've revealed before putting the site to bed until next year, but not before a few more fantastic finds by Team 2014!

Only TWO DAYS left of this year's dig and the rain is still relentless (that fine rain that soaks you right through). Luckily this morning my group were finds washing and labelling, sheltered from the grim weather with some lovely finds! My favourite was a post-medieval heart-shaped lead mount. Excavation this afternoon was still rainy but enjoyable with a few finds like a large chunk of medieval Ewloe-type ware cistern (see above), proving Cestrians have always loved a pint - well done Dave! Hopefully the last couple of days will turf up some equally great finds as a nice farewell.

My morning on Day 16 of the dig was spent in the finds lab allocating small finds nu…

A Successful Open Day

Our first reports of the Open Day have come in - we were feeling the love!

The open day finally arrived.....and I am happy to say that it was a great success!  There was such a large turn out with all manner of people showing up to sate their interest in archaeology. All the diggers got stuck in to our work stations from the mini dig, where kids could hunt for finds, to our finds tables where we displayed the more interesting artefacts from the site; these ran alongside the site tours where we shared our knowledge of the site with the public.

What I took away from today is that archaeology is not a dead subject and that there still is a lot of love for it out there.

Well, today was pretty successful by all accounts! At the start of the day we actually had a pump that worked and so we didn't need to bail out the water. Today's troweling in our possible medieval ditch gave up a plethora of animal bone including jaw bones complete with teeth, and some proper treasur…

Day 14: Late update - Mud & Romans

Water levels rose throughout the day, but there was still work to be done. After all - there's only 1 week left!


Today was wet -  very wet. However, the day was a good one. For the first half of the day I was recording finds in Albion Street. The other groups came to join us in washing finds when it was too wet to do any substantial digging on site. After doing the long job of sorting and recording all of the unstratified finds, we did made it back on site.
I carried on excavating the same context I have been doing for the last few days, whilst trying not to be engulfed by the rising water later of the ditch to the left of me. Flooding seemed imminent since unfortunately I knew I had to get down to the same level of that ditch. In the last quarter of the day I managed to start unearthing some decent finds, which was a relief as I had been hearing Tom and Dave complain for the last few days that they had too  many! Some of the finds included the base of a Roman ceramic d…

Day 14: Bank Holiday Weather but the archaeology doesn't mind

Today saw more periodic drenching of the team.  Whilst some escaped to the relative dry of the finds processing room, others battled it out as long as they could on site. Here's hoping our Open Day on Tuesday is drier than this!


Today was focused around post-excavation processes for finds, because archaeology does not end after an artefact is recovered. The first stage  is to wash the finds; this is a labor of love as it requires a delicate touch and patience, but only certain finds can be washed such as bone and pottery as other materials, for example iron, can be destroyed if washed. After the finds are washed and dried it's on to the next stage in the process, which for us is to mark the finds with the relevant site code so that if misplaced they can be returned to their proper place. This is a tricky and delicate endeavor that requires using waterproof ink, a fountain pen and a steady hand. Alas, I lack the latter so this was a struggle for me at first, but by t…

Day 13: The Plot Thickens

It's nearly the end of Week 3 and with only days left on the dig, the discoveries are coming in thick and fast. The finds are pretty mixed so we are still in disturbed contexts, but things are certainly hotting up...

Thursday mornings are group C's half day so obviously I spent the morning doing uni work. After walking to site work quickly began, but with many of the deep holes filled up with water the places that were workable were limited. The pit that Dave and I have been excavating needed another layer taking off with the mattock...but as I swung the mattock into the ground for the first time, it uncovered a bone. It is easy to see the week's hard work taking its toll on the students working on site, and today it was rather quiet as everyone was noticeably tired, with the constant drizzle not helping. The site is becoming a lot clearer and easy to understand now whilst everyone has their own particular part of site, becoming more and more possessive of it! however, …

Press Release: Open Day May 27th

Our Annual OPEN DAY event will be held on Tuesday May 27th in the afternoon from about 1pm - 4pm.  There will be signs up to guide you into the park and over to the trench.  We'll have lots of things to see including some of our stellar finds from this year and past years.  You'll get to have a tour and explanation of what's happening on site and the latest on the interpretation of the medieval activity we've discovered PLUS some kid-friendly activities, too! (There may even be a visit from this elusive superhero we've heard something about...)

See our press release here:

Hope to see lots of you there!

Day 12: Going Medieval

We are well into Week 3 now and stone-built structures are starting to take shape across the trench...but what date could they be? And are Team 2014 being creatively inspired by the archaeology or simply going mad? You be the judge...

The weather has been a strange mix of both lovely and awful, meaning we're still left bailing water out of deep holes while it is still incredibly sunny. However, I am reassured that it is going to get much much worse, so I suppose I have that to look forward to. Not a great deal going on in my section of the trench, but the rest of the site is coming along nicely. Much more of the pit/possible moat has been uncovered (though hindered greatly by water today) and more of the possibly medieval stone structure has been exposed. Some groups are making progress on site drawing and most of us have now filled in context sheets. In other news, the water war between Adam and Freya has escalated, with Adam being soaked multiple times but with no intenti…

Action shots!


Day 10: A great British bake-off

Week 3 kicks off with some intense sun and some intense trowelling...

Arriving on site and finding that the clayey soil has been baked hard by the sun can be a little disheartening; however with a little team effort the ground was soon being mattocked and prepared for trowelling. Jordy, Brad and I have been digging the same square for a about a week now, and although we are making good progress, we have had relatively few artefacts. Today, however, was the marking of a new era and a bounty of animal bone was found, along with a few sherds of pot, floor tile and slate roof tile. Maybe tomorrow we'll find a full skeleton!

Day 10 saw Laura and I continue our work in the westerly corner of trench. Brick after brick was revealed as I got going with my trowel. Laura on the other hand was pulling out some impressive animal bones - see above! When we first discovered the alignment of stone that makes up our feature, we thought it was perhaps a medieval oven, but the sha…

Day 9: Boar hunt

Just to prove that you never know what you might find amongst the 'rubbish' of demolished buildings, Team 2014 turned up a few unexpected treasures in a day's work...

With the string of nice weather alongside the introduction of a football on site, today was set up to be another entertaining day on the dig. This was however quickly proved wrong although the sun was still shining. John informed me as soon as I got on site that a) I had broken his glasses accidentally during the football game yesterday and b) Tom got injured also during the game (Which is apparently my fault although these things happen!). The morning mainly involved me and the rest of group B catching up on the washing of finds and marking them. Functioning on the little sleep I had as well as my unrivalled ability to make simple tasks hard, this proved difficult. 3 times in a row I found myself going back to the washroom after getting ink everywhere, on myself and the clay pipe I was marking. After lu…

A week two photo bonanza...

Some pics courtesy of the CWAC archaeologists.. thanks guys!

Look at them all... in the sunshine...dirt beneath their nails... ah the life of the archaeology student!

Day 8: Trowel madness

The nice weather continued today, much to everyone's relief! We started the day by trowelling, meaning many finds were discovered all round. The sun got hotter as the day went on, which led to one of the highlights of my day, in the form of Matt smearing mud across his face when trying to put on sun cream. For a change of pace in the afternoon, Jon and I began drawing up a plan of a section of the trench, which we will hopefully finish tomorrow. I think everyone is wishing that the weather will stay nice!

Today did not disappoint with some great finds, impressive weather and hard team work. Upon arrival, a few of us were separated into groups. Some went to wash finds, others to record the site, take measurements and continue trowelling. I was a troweller, and I loved every minute. The sun was shining and I couldn’t wait to uncover my next find! Late on in the day, after the final break, another colleague and I were chosen to engage with the public and tell them about ou…

Day 7: Sun's out!

Finally, a sunny day in the park! Let the proper digging commence!

After the recent weather, today was a welcome change as waterproof clothing was changed for t-shirts and sun cream. Dave, Callum and I were sent to mattock down a layer of soil that was baking quickly in the hot sun. After 20 minutes or so we decided that it would be safer to trowel the layer down after a number of bones were narrowly missed with the mattock! Progress in this part of the site was rather slow due to the sheer volume of finds coming up with pieces of bone, slate and pottery ranging from Roman to medieval dates. After lunch and more importantly ice creams my favourite find of the day was discovered which was a piece of decorated medieval floor tile found by Dave excavating next to me (see above). The afternoon break was spent wisely playing football. All in all, it was greatly appreciated, and after the fun that was had today I hope the weather continues to be as beautiful.

After the hail on Monday,…

Site now open to visitors!

You can now come visit the Grosvenor Park excavations and see Team 2014 in action!

Although Grosvenor Park remains closed, you can now enter through the gate behind St John's as indicated by the blue marker on the map below.

This will be open to visitors Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm.

Day 6: After the flood

After the flood, finally Team 2014 get a sunny break. Quick, trowels out before the weather gods change their minds!

The second week of the dig continues and it's safe to say I'm thoroughly enjoying being an archaeologist! After becoming one with the rain yesterday, we were all glad of some real work to do today. The morning brought puddles of muddy water, which were cleared quite efficiently with a good dose of teamwork! Before lunch, troweling commenced on the quickly drying areas of the site - the best way to work up an appetite in my opinion. This afternoon (after a...lovely lunch) Team C were washing finds at Albion Street, a surprisingly relaxing and valuable learning experience. We were also introduced to the somewhat frustrating process of labeling finds, but important for post-excavation. All in all, a good start to the second week of excavation, and fingers crossed for more lovely weather in the coming days!

After the setback of yesterday's severe weat…

Day 5: Hail Caesar

The weather was even more Cestrian than usual, with a particularly bad afternoon hailstorm driving Team 2014 indoors...

Bit of wet weather today so we had to wait the morning for the conditions to improve. Getting on site in the afternoon, most of the trenches were filled with water which prevented us from working straight off, and a bit of teamwork was needed, forming human chains to bucket the water out of the trenches. Luckily the area I was working on was finished so was able to trowel till break, finding a lot of charcoal and a few large pieces of bone. Unfortunately the rain joined by a bit of thunder and hail came along soon after, resulting in an early day for the diggers.

Slow start to the morning as the rain caused us to be stuck inside (thankfully), leaving us to complete section drawings and fill the silence with classic banter. Following lunch when everyone went back to a presumably filthy site, me and the rest of the A team headed off to our finds processing …

Day 4: The stage is set

Team 2014 reflects on a tough first week of work, but the stage is now set to reveal the Roman road and what lies beneath the floor deposits of last year's stone structure.

Although today started off windy with a bit of rain, I fortunately had the morning in a classroom looking at the impact archaeology has on the public and how that has made archaeology into a trend. The second half of the day was spent removing any remaining backfill and then using the trowels to reach the Roman remains. The highlight of the day would have to be Nathaniel and Freya finding a large amount of animal bone remains.

The site is really beginning to take form. With more of the Roman road uncovered earlier in the week it is becoming easier to see. We also had a refresher course on the use of the Dumpy level, which is used to take height readings across the site. There is a real feeling of camaraderie among the whole team and everyone is excited, if tired, and looking forward to getting to some…

Day 3: Mud Wrestling

Our third day on site was only slightly curtailed by the elements, but Team 2014 managed to clear off the last of the terram sheeting and learn survey techniques as well. Plenty of tantalisingly unexcavated layers to play with now...

Day 3 of the dig and it's...yep, raining. The mud, now starting to get sticky, feels like it weighs a tonne as you try and walk with a pair mud boots and shovel it into an ever tipping over wheelbarrow. There's nothing better than consistency! The first break was welcomed by all as we sat down groaning with muscle ache. Break being over, The A Team took the lead in using the dumpy level to record the ground measurements, whilst the others were left to get down and dirty once again! Thankfully, by lunchtime the rain decided to abate a little and we all tramped back to the hut for sandwiches, tea and hand washing queues.

Adam learns to pull girls! Whilst the thick of the rain hits the site it has turned in to a muddy mess. This…

Rain can't stop us.

Some pictures courtesy of Julie and Cheryl!

Day 2: Trowels out!

A bit of rain never hurt anyone! Today's progress involved lifting more of the terram sheeting laid down at the end of the 2013 season, and Team 2014's first taste of context sheets. The ditch and Roman road are starting to reappear. But don't take my word for it:

Today was a good day for firsts, which is odd what with it being the second day. For starters we had our first encounter with adverse weather which was bearable though I imagine there will be plenty more to come. The second first was our first on-site exposure to context sheets. And finally, today we first saw the bottom of our hole, which was a huge relief as we were worried we'd never find it. If the weather holds out and we do another half-days' worth of digging we should be able to lift up the terram and uncover the actually archaeology beneath, which I am very much looking forward to.

Still no signs of dinosaurs yet, though it is still early days.

After the excitement of the first day of th…

Day One: The team makes short work of backfill

Work in the park has begun! You may find it tricky to visit us this year as there is other work going on in Grosvenor Park at the moment, which means parts of it are off limits for visitors.  We will still find a way to have our annual Open Day event (watch this space) and of course we can offer lots of virtual visits through our blog.

We kick off with two fresh archaeologists' views on their first day on site! Some pics hopefully to come soon!

Laura becomes OK with dirt and is impressed by the finds so far:

Today, was the first day of the 2014 Chester Archaeological dig in GrosvenorPark. There was a lot of anticipation and excitement for today’s dig and we weren’t disappointed! The sun was shining and the spades were working away and everybody enjoyed doing so.

In the morning, we were briefed on site and introduced to the friendly and attentive staff we were to be working with. After this, we got straight to it! We began by clearing the backfill from the previous years’ work, which …

2014 Season Begins in May!

Well, we are polishing up the kit, sharpening trowels and getting ready to welcome a new batch of 2nd year archaeologists to the joys of digging in Grosvenor Park, Chester!

Our field season begins the first week in May (on Tuesday the 6th) and will run Monday - Friday for 4 weeks (not including bank holidays).  We are aiming for an Open Day in the final week (week of May 26th) so keep your eyes open.

Fingers crossed we'll have decent weather, great archaeology and a good team.  Many of the usual characters are back, but with a whole new crop of student diggers who will be regularly blogging about their experiences and what's happening on site.

Things we are looking into this year:

Trying to figure out the tricky remains of our late medieval to early post-medieval timber structure.Revealing the plan of the medieval masonry building to see if we can figure out its purposeInvestigate further some ditches on site to see if they are related to this medieval buildingLook further into…