CAER 2017 Begins... Thursday 4th May!

CAER 2017 Begins... Thursday 4th May!
What will be uncovered this year?
We're back for our 11th season during which examination of trench IV will be continued. Our work will examine the interior of the masonry building (the possible chapel) with its drain discharging into the ditch, the western part of the ditch feature where it is overlain by the medieval building and the underlying deposits. This year trench IV will also be extended to the south in order to locate and examine a stone structure identified during the excavation of a service trench in 2013.
Keep up to date with all the discoveries, brought to you by our daily bloggers.

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Saturday, 24 May 2014

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 drinking vessel and the base of a Mortarium vessel.

Jon practices hand modelling with the help of a muddy vessel fragment.

Friday, 23 May 2014

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 the end of the day I had hit my stride. I'm looking forward to next week and to getting back to more excavation - hopefully we may uncover a Roman boat to keep our feet dry.

Just one of the glazed tiles from site.


The end of the third week has produced a bunch of tired and soggy trainee archaeologists. Looking back on this week, it seems all we've done is bail rain water out of the trench after the spectacular thunder storm on Monday and not much else! However, spirits are high as we're all starting to get the hang of different aspects of the excavation process and are looking forward to the open day on Tuesday!

I myself haven't had many significant finds whilst digging a section of the medieval ditch towards the eastern end of the trench apart from a large sherd of medieval slip ware drinking vessel, and - you guessed it - lots more animal bone! But whilst finds washing, I've come across a few nice bits of medieval glazed floor tiles which are always aesthetically pleasing!

Next week is sure to be bittersweet, but I'm determined to make the most of it! 

A little rain never hurt anyone...

A few beauty shots of other finds - now all tidy and clean - including that animal skull! Pics courtesy of our pals at CWAC (Thanks Cheryl!)

A lovely decorated clay pipe stem!

This little piggy went to the park (things didn't go so well after that I suspect).

Thursday, 22 May 2014

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, whilst everyone is tired, I am still enjoying myself immensely and looking forward to going back in tomorrow!

The rain today caused a rather slow start to the day, so we all headed to Albion Street to continue with finds washing, where the A team concentrated on cataloguing finds we had previously washed. After a nice lunchtime walk we returned to the site to continue on our section in the northeast area of the pit. For the first 45 minutes there wasn't much archaeology to be had but then the finds started rolling on in. Nathaniel was the man of the moment, uncovering glazed and decorated medieval floor tiles, various sherds of decorated Roman pottery and a possible animal burial. The section is confusing though as there were Roman finds above medieval ones, so keen to crack on with excavation tomorrow to uncover whatever is going on here. I'm guessing a dino-human ritual burial?!

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!

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

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 intention of letting peace prevail.

My hopes of finding a dinosaur are quickly diminishing.

Today consisted of a water-soaked Adam, assigning places in the ‘archaeological comic book strip’ [editor's note: see below if you dare], great finds, weather and a lot of trowelling! To begin with, Beth and I continued drawing our stone features on the Western corner of the trench which could possibly pre-date the (medieval?) stone structure! After this, we recorded the necessary levels and filled out our context sheets, nostalgically recalling skills learn from our previous year's survey at Halkyn mountain. Further into the afternoon, we helped Bradley trowel away a thick layer of dirt. In doing so, Bethany found a beautiful piece of a medieval floor tile. And I found copious amounts of large animal bone! However, nothing was as impressive as Matthew’s boar skull from the previous day!

Throughout the day, a lot of the public came to see what was going on. It was so encouraging to see so many people intrigued and my colleagues engaging with them the way they did. I felt extremely proud to be part of the project and even prouder of the hilarious and inspiring people I’m working with for the final week and a half. *sobs*

Today's fine weather helped progress on the site after almost an entire morning of bailing out water from numerous pits and gullies. The medieval ditch north of the wall that Tom and I have been excavating gave up some beautiful medieval floor tile along with some glazed medieval roof tiles, all pointing towards a fairly high status building. The highlight of today however, came in the form of the creation of Chester's first superhero..., now known as Archaeology Man, and his trusted sidekick Tom as Mattock boy! Archaeology Man was created when the geophys equipment he was using exploded, sending pulses of radiation into his body. When he awoke, he found that not only could he fly, but also had super strength, x-ray vision and the ability to turn foes into stone. The tools he was carrying also became enchanted, his trowel able to absorb the sun's radiation and unleash it on his foes. It also returns to Archaeology Man after being thrown and cannot be used by mere humans. His mattock can cut through any material known to man and has the ability to absorb the water from archaeological sites and then unleash it upon any enemy.

With his strange new powers, Archaeology Man took it upon himself to train Tom, in the same manner that Ras Al Dan (the site director) trained Dave. Archaeology Man equipped Tom with his enchanted mattock, knowing that he was true of heart, and so he became Mattock Boy. Together they fight injustice throughout the North West. However, despite Mattock Boy's true intentions, he always unwillingly destroys Archaeology Man's finds upon excavation.

Their main nemesis is no other than the unassuming Adrian, otherwise known as Doctor History! His famous catchphrase when he pounds his foes to the ground being "You're History!!!"

Stay tuned for more Archaeology Man, including illustrations of him and Mattock Boy...

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Action shots!

Get your rocks off (the edge of the trench): blocks of medieval masonry reused as packing material

The new stone feature in the corner of the trench...Roman or medieval?

Even in a sweltering sunny day some of the ditches and drains discovered by CAER in 2013 retain water all too well

Carefully excavating around the early modern drains to see what's underneath

Monday, 19 May 2014

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!

Laura gets the find of the day

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 shape didn't quite fit. Now having exposed more of the feature, we are facing the possibility that we might have actually found a Roman structure! Stay tuned to find out! After lunch, my team headed off to the finds room in order to get our hands on some of the 'goodies' found on site. Once washed, the finds have to be marked with the site code and context number. We use fountain pens for this job, which is not as glamorous as it sounds - we were covered in ink afterwards! But the amount of cool finds we were able to get a closer look at was awesome!

Shiny happy finds

Today was a sunny morning and this would set the tone for the rest of the day. The work today was hard going as my sun-baked feature was unable to break easily even with use of a mattock. Luckily Freya lent me a trowel which was sharper and could break through the material better and help me to tell the difference between soil and stone. This revealed that it was a possible pathway or paved surface. Although not the most exciting day, the group seemed to function well as more banter seemed to be happening!

This morning, we trudged onto the site with sunshine everywhere. While the majority of people were trowelling, myself and Jon instead finished off the plan of a section we had been working on, and took the levels for it. Lunchtime hit and the heat had notched up, so the need for water was vital. Once lunch was over everyone got back to their spots on site and we got back to trowelling. The heat was incredible and I felt sorry for poor Adam and so decided to help him out by emptying a bottle of water on him to cool him down, much to my amusement (not so much to his!). Therefore a water fight did start and within no time my water supply was gone, but all for a good cause. Before leaving we did our daily inspection of who looked the most tanned and who was covered in the most mud. With the help of my housemates, we came to the conclusion that Jordy has managed to do a pretty good job of bringing most of the site back with him. Overall it was a nice and productive day, however I am very happy snuggled in bed waiting out this thunder storm thanking the gods that it is happening now and not then!