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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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Day 19: A glorious yet sad day


So the final day of the dig arrived, and it was a glorious yet sad day. The morning consisted of removing as much of the ditch fill as we could before lunch, as the trench needed to be photographed after.

Yesterday I said that there could be a mysterious Roman pit within the southern end of the ditch. Unfortunately time ran out before we could excavate it, however, whilst cleaning that portion of the ditch (for the photograph!) it has become clearer. There appears to be two separate pits, one which is thought to be a gap in the medieval ditch (maybe an entrance), and the other is still thought at this time to be Roman in date. Next year’s second years will now have to solve the mystery! 

Even though we only had the morning to make some more discoveries before putting the site to bed for the next year, some interesting finds were still found! Another sherd of our Cistercian ware portable brewery was found, and another large mammal skull was discovered at the northern end of the medieval ditch. 

Another amazing find that appeared, which unfortunately I did not get a picture of, was what is thought to be a medieval book clasp. It was fragile and rather corroded, however it still revealed some of its beautiful decoration in spite of this. It was a beautiful morning digging, and we shall all miss being on site every day. 

In the afternoon pictures were taken to record the extent of the ditch, and the stone wall that runs along the western side. Whilst this was going on, we took the opportunity to rest for a moment and come to terms with the fact that shortly we would need to cover the trench with terram (a fabric that is placed over the archaeological remains in order to protect them when the trench is backfilled, and when it is revealed again next year). 

It has been an amazing four weeks, which has been filled with fantastic company, beautiful archaeology and superb teachers! I would also like to thank the public that came along to talk to us whilst we were excavating, and for having such an interest in what we do! 

Hopefully the mysteries of the southern ditch will be solved next year…… 




Saturday, 6 June 2015

Final Day: "The shortness of time turns life into a race"

Day 19. The final day. 

Many interesting events happened on site: Kim yelling at Cam in a moment when she was too hungry, Maddy falling over her ankle, Sam being offended because Harry didn't want to admit his majestic beauty... Chocolate cake (I love you, Kim!), bottles of wine for Dan, Simon, Julie and Gill and a well deserved thank you card.

Today was our last chance to unearth all the wonders hidden  in the amazing trench IV. After days and days, weeks and weeks, Jenny, Dan, Nathan and I (with the precious help of Mavis of course! ) reach the bottom of the medieval ditch, finding great quantities of bones and pottery! By the end of the day we managed to take pictures of the entire ditch, which was meticulously clean. Sadly, after the pictures were taken we had to cover all the trench and put the site to bed,  ready for new discoveries next year. What a super sad moment! It's not going to be the same life from Monday... Going to the library instead of being in a hole covered in mud!

The inevitable end has come and this is the moment to say thank you guys and thanks to everyone who made this dig possible. It has been an unforgettable experience and most definitely the best 4 weeks of our second year! 

And here it is the  the big final question (that everyone in our degree seems to want us to answer):



Thursday, 4 June 2015

''Early thoughts of final days"

Early thoughts of final days, title of a wonderful song and perfect title for today's blog. Day 18 has just come to  an end and it is unbelievable to think that tomorrow is our last on site. Sad me. I don t even know where the past three weeks have gone..! Probably I was too  busy in finding bones, pieces of pottery, Mr Percy the cow skull (or I should say dragon skull... We are still not too sure about it!) and complaining about the miserable and freezing cold weather. Although, I must say that finally today the weather has been clement with us busy archaeologists and we had a lovely warm sun and for once in my life I was just fine.

Today we finally reached the bottom of the medieval deposit in which Jenny and I have been working for the past 3 weeks, with the precious help of Dan and Mavis the mattock.  Six trays have been filled with animal bones and medieval pottery and next to the medieval ditch we also found what it could be interpreted as a Roman feature... But for the moment this is still a mystery with no sure answers.

Sad and excited, waiting for tomorrow... Our last day of pure archaeological magic. And we know that the best treasures have been found on the last day of excavation so... As Baden Powell would say... Be Prepared!!!
And to conclude, citing the aforementioned song:

"Welcome all experience and where we'll find hope
Hope for tomorrow and live for today".



Day 18: Romans and Doughnuts

Today, Chiara, Dan and I gave ourselves a challenge of excavating the remaining fill of the medieval ditch at the southern end, and we succeeded with the help of Mavis (a mattock)! However, the southern end of the ditch has now become a mystery. At the end of yesterday we had recovered a large number of Roman pottery and building materials, which was unusual considering that we are excavating a ditch that dates the medieval period. This has led us to believe that there may be a Roman feature that the ditch has cut through! It is very exciting!

Some amazing finds have been excavated out the ditch fill from numerous animal remains to pottery sherds and metal objects (mostly thought to be nails). The most exciting find so far for me has been several large pieces of Cistercian ware that were excavated yesterday and today. The vessel is broken, however it is thought that is may have been a ‘portable brewery’. Hopefully tomorrow (our last day on site L) will give us a chance to find even more amazing things in the potential Roman deposit! 

The sun was shining and although this is welcomed compared to the rain, it made it very difficult to swing the mattock or shovel loose for more than two minutes without needing to drink water or sit down! 

Doughnuts were delivered by our lecturer Amy during the morning break, which were amazing (Raspberry jam doughnuts are superior to any other!).


Day 17 in pictures

Plan of the main features and overall phasing of the site

Looking northwards along the ditches

Planning the stones beneath the clay in the western part of the trench
Clearing out the last bits of ditch fill in the northern end of the trench
Medieval floor tile 
part of a 'portable brewery'!
Base of a Samian vessel from the ditch fill (presumably residual)
Starting to take out one of the remaining baulks through the ditches
The art of levelling a planning frame

Day 17: Squirrels Vs Archaeologists.

Today, on the 3rd of June 2015, Dan lost croissant to a squirrel.

It would’ve been a dark day for archaeology if it weren’t for the amazing finds found on site by our archaeologists.

A large medieval bone needle found by our well versed archaeologist Ross.
A huge medieval animal mandible possibly from an adolescent cow or pig found by our archaeologist Jenny.

And some excellent clearing carried out by two incredibly dedicated archaeologists Kim and Kate.

All and all, beside the thievery of a croissant by an archaeology hating squirrel, today we made so much progress in excavating and understanding this site.


Day 16: Open Day!

Today was open day, which means lots of preparation, boxes, and questions. The beginning of the day, at least for us, was filling out small finds numbers and artefact sheets whilst the others moved tables and chairs out to site.

In the afternoon the open day started at 1pm and as it was such a stark contrast from the practically winter weather we had the day before, people actually ventured outside. Percy (Jenny and Chiara’s cow skull) made an appearance as did Barry’s replica Mesolithic tool kit and fishing tools. On another table were the artefacts recovered from our excavation this year and previous years neatly arranged ranging from cisterns to musket balls.

The majority of people we received on open day were friendly and enthusiastic people who were genuinely interested and hardly anyone asked about hidden treasure and Roman coins. 

The students were split up into teams: digging, leading tours and answering questions about the artefacts on show, though everyone contributed to answering the public’s questions about the site. I was leading a tour with a lovely woman named Alison who was from originally from New Jersey who was very knowledgeable about archaeology and suggested that the area Sam and I are working on, which is filled with rubble, could be a wall collapse and could be related to another area of the site east of where we are digging.

The open day finished at 4pm and we packed up everything and took it back to the hut.  More importantly Dan and Nathan carried a table back and were insistent on saving the fudge! Caroline and Ellen both brought donuts, which were both very much appreciated on site today. Even though a lot of us said we were on a diet we still ate them because, hey, donuts! Being the classy lady that I am I dropped the filling down myself and generally made a mess but it was well worth it. 

Overall the day was really good. It was sunny and nice and warm, albeit windy, and there were lots of snacks going round which always boosts moral!

It’s surreal that we’re on the final week already, it’s going to be really strange that it will soon all be over and the year will be finished!


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Day 15: the final week begins

Day 15, and the beginning of our final week! 

It's a weird feeling. A feeling of sadness that after this week the excavation will finish. It has been a gruelling three weeks but has served only to strengthen friendships and muscles!

Today team D had our final finds session which consisted of us learning about the importance of record cards (for institutions who are not yet digitised) and recording small finds. This helps aid future data retrieval. Although, an artefact does not necessarily have to be small in order to be classified as a 'small find'. 

The purpose of a small find record is to record special and unique artefacts separately from other excavated material, which is recorded and treated differently during post-excavation analysis. An example of a small find would be a coin, which provides valuable dating evidence of a context.

Well this is my final post, so enjoy fellow archaeologists.


Monday, 1 June 2015

Monday Madness at start of week 4

cant believe we are now into the last week! What a great three weeks its been and I don’t think Im quite ready for it to end. 

    The day began with me and my group doing our work on our finds trays. We had to fill out a lot of sheets and cards which completely confused me at first. However, after talking them through with the group and Julie they slowly began to make sense. I think…. I love dealing with the finds, all nice and clean the finds look great sat in their own bags with their little cards giving brief information about each artefact. The little work room in which we work is now filled with trays of finds. Animal bone and pottery now are everywhere within that little work room and I do feel a sense of joy as I kind of know what they are and knowing that we excavated them is an even better feeling.

      After a freezing morning of dealing with our finds we then went outside to dig for about an hour and a half. The soil was so wet and easy to cut with a shovel so me and my group continued working on our feature, which seems to be taking forever. If it is done by the end of the excavation I will be amazed! But im sure we can do it! 

    We then had an interesting lecture about animal bone. It blew my mind and I think my brain became numb after a while listening to all of the long words that are used to describe animal bones! And listening to how to sieve and how many insect types there are completely stumped me. Roll on the next four days!!!!


Saturday, 30 May 2015

Day 14: Treasure at last!

A very successful morning.  Whilst taking away the clay mound in the far northwest corner of the site, trying to determine whether we had another stone foundationMeg began troweling what looked to be an emerald coloured stone. When we further analysed the object however, it became clear that it was much more precious and significant. A truly amazing discovery which captured the attention of all our group, as well as Julie and Dan. We thought we found an intact medieval coin engravined with a short cross

Medieval Jetton in situ

After further research by Julie and Dan it turns out that this small treasure is a Jetton counter. Not relating to currency or used for trading, but used during the medieval period as a calculation counter, similar to an abacus but used on a chequered board/table. This particular Jetton piece is most likely to be French, indicated by its detailed design and was probably manufactured sometime in the 14th century. Jetton counters were popularly made in areas like Paris and were imported by countries such as England, Spain and others.  Trading however, slowly came to an end as independent production systems were established from the 16th century onward and the need for French Jettons ceased.