|Tom, Jon and Dave bash last year's backfill out of the trench|
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 the dig, we returned to the site with sunburnt faces, necks and arms, along with being very tired from a hard day of 9-5 digging. We started the day off removing the topsoil from the previous digs. For the rest of the day we were blessed with some breaks of sunshine throughout the rain which barely stopped from about lunchtime. In this time the majority of the terram (a sheet which is used to cover up the previous archaeology and protect it from the backfill used to cover it up) was removed from the site, unveiling the work of the past years. By the end of the day, some of us even got to start troweling the uncovered soil which the terram covered.
After our introductions everybody knew what was going on and who was meant to do what. My particular job today was to empty out a ditch full of backfill and uncover the fabric (terram) which was covering the archaeology. Admittedly when I first looked at it I thought, well, that backfill will come out in no time. How wrong I was! After an hour or so a rhythm was found and the ditch was beginning to take shape. After lunch, it became considerably more difficult, with the soil sticking together and to our boots due to the rain. Towards the end of the day there wasn't a great deal driving our group on apart from the thought of the nice cold pint at the end of the day. However once the work had been done, it is very easy to admit that being on site is perhaps the most fun I have had in a long time.
When we got to the site Simon Ward put me straight to work pulling up the sheet we fought so bravely to get to yesterday. After removing this, I, along with 5 others, started to scrape off the residue spoil and top of the 'new' layer. Halfway through the day Team A (The A-Team) were pulled aside so that Simon could educate us on the use of context sheets on site. Following this we got cracking with removing the top layer of soil, which with the assistance of some Disney nostalgia we continued to do till finish at 5pm. Then we retreated to the pub for some sweet sustenance.
Although the afternoon on Day 2 was dismal and wet, that did not dampen our spirits! While half of the team pulled the fabric layers off the ground to expose last year's archaeology, the other half, including me, were concentrating on exposing the Roman road that was discovered. A lot of back-breaking labour was involved, but the result made it all worth it: a fantastic Roman road slowly appeared out of the layers of clay that pushed down upon it. I have to say the buzz from finding and exposing it is second to none!
It's all very well reading about these things, but actually exposing them and seeing it with your own eyes after hours of labour is fantastic. This is why I love archaeology, you really get a sense of history, and you really feel like you are doing something that will help future generations understand the history of Chester.