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, 16 May 2015

Photos from week 1

View along the length of the Medieval ditch

Nathan cleaning out the last of the ditch fill

Nathan and Dan excavating the ditch fill

The Rev. Chesters visits site to see what we're finding in what is essentially his backyard

Contrasting ditches and fills.  Why have one when you can have two?

Ross' great discovery

view along the Medieval ditch, facing south

Finds are popping up everywhere

Friday, 15 May 2015

Day 5: The end of the first week of digging

Pottery, bones, and more bones!

After a hard week of digging back fill in the hot sun, we were rewarded with finds.

An eventful day on the site started off with team D scraping back loose soil from the remains of the Roman road and wishing Kate a happy 20th birthday!

After hours of what seemed like endless scraping of rocks, bricks, and clay soil we finally made progress in revealing the materials this ancient road was made from. While scraping, we also noticed a large chunk of a Roman pottery (Samian ware), protruding from out of the Roman drainage gully! While we weren’t allowed to move it yet, it was deemed by the group worthy of a photo.

Later on in the day, team D went on to mattock a large open space near the end of the Roman road. While the section of earth looked plain and boring to begin with, a medieval pottery handle was found in great condition. This one large chunk of a pot can only mean more medieval domestic finds to come!

Later still, team A’s Cameron and Ross unearthed a large medieval, possibly horse or cattle bone. After a well-placed boning joke, Cameron lifted the large, what appeared to be femur, from the site to show us all. 

But the bone finds didn’t stop there, and there were only more bone jokes to come. Later on Team A discovered another huge medieval animal bone find. A cattle horn, unearthed in the same place as the large possible femur. 

But Team A weren’t the only ones to finds bones today. Team D and Team B found an abundance of small animal bones, with team B discovering unidentified teeth still attached to a jaw bone, and Team D discovering large quantities of cattle teeth.

Now after a long week of work in the sun and mud, it’s time for steak and a pint. 


Day 5: You can give a dog an old bone...

Day 5 was a great day. Firstly because it was my birthday secondly because all the groups came up with some pretty awesome finds and thirdly because Jenny brought cake.  
Our group was levelling out a medieval layer ready for further excavation next week, of which in the process we discovered some pretty cool cattle teeth… that are MASSIVE! Seriously, my dentist always tells me I have big teeth; I’m going to have to correct him next time because these things were huge.
It was a pretty biological themed day, with lots of the groups finding fragments both large and small of animal bone, including Chiara who excavated what we believe to be a pig’s jaw with teeth still attached.
Cameron and Ross had a great day getting through a medieval rubbish pit that was found to contain a well-preserved cattle femur bone and some lovely antler. The boys and their bones became the running joke of the day; we just couldn’t get enough of them.
Excited to see what next week brings and praying that the foreboding inclement weather warnings are incorrect *does anti-rain dance*.

Kate with her big tooth

Revealing more animal bone

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Day 4: Removing the last of the fill from the Medieval ditch

Day 4: Starting to remove one of the baulks within the Medieval ditch

Day 4: Cameron's account of 'going public'

After yesterday's weather blessed many of us with a good tan, and I'm sure a few with some good burns, it was only a matter of time before it was forecast to be rainy and miserable. Although as the hours rolled on, this expected rain was nowhere to be seen. This made our day much easier as we have now started to get down into the layers which have been untapped by the previous excavations. 

I had the lovely pleasure of sharing a trench with Rossy, and with a team effort we trowelled our way through a foot of hard clay, in search of medieval refuse. Whilst the findings may not have been ground-breaking, there were some interesting finds such as a pigs mandible, a couple of cattle teeth, and SuperDan uncovered what has been thought to be part of a Roman jug. 

Day 4 was also our introductory lecture into public archaeology, in which Jane from CWAC showed us how the public can get involved with archaeology and what the public can bring to the field. This was accompanied with a pleasant walk through Chester in which we looked at the work done at the new theatre and then up to the painter man in King Charles' tower along the wall. Speaking to the public about our dig still seems daunting, although i'm sure we will all get more confident with experience. 

Hopefully Day 5 is accompanied by some warm weather as I would love to get my shorts out once again. 


Day 4: Where we’re going we don’t need shovels…

In all truth, today began well and ended brilliantly. This was the beginning that I think everyone was waiting for. Shovelling past all the backfill from last years dig in the previous three days was encumbering, unexciting and full of questionable quotes from the Simpsons, Back to the Future and The Office. However, I finally managed to pull out my £10 trowel and use it for the right reasons. 

Although the weather had stopped shining, the clouds rolled in and the Cornettos remained in Tesco, (Thanks for the food by the way Mr. Pond, I’ll repay you in some way…) my burnt neck, which looks like it has been viscously slapped by the greatest (or worst) dictator on the planet - Kim Jong Cameron, was thankful for the cool breeze.

One of the many highlights of the day took place during the 'introduction to public archaeology' workshop, where we visited King Charles Tower, which was occupied by a painter who produced pictures of storm troopers, Daleks and Darth Vader chilling in the streets of Chester… why not? 

Towards the end of the day we started getting some (for me) seriously exciting finds in the medieval ditch including part of a pig’s jaw, which was complete with dazzling white gnashers, as well as two large teeth from a cow. The ditch was teeming with bones of all shapes and sizes such as a pig vertebrae, pelvis and a few sherds of ceramics and even oysters, which I tried to pick out carefully and succeeded a couple of times, but smashing them with a mattock proved far more likely and was also somewhat entertaining.
I look forward to the coming days.


Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Day 3 Megan describes the 'hulking' features being revealed...

It's day three and the end of the pit is in site sight

It has been 3 painstaking days and we have finally got to the bottom of the backfill, with little rain, a whole lot of sunshine and a lot more hard work.  By the end of the four weeks we will all almost certainly be looking like the Hulk, Popeye or a WWE wrestler, but thankfully we are almost to the stage that everyone has hoped for. Our main objective now (other than excavating) is to remember to watch our balance in order to not fall into the varying depths of the trench, therefore as well as body-builders, we will also be professional gymnasts.  

The several features of the site, that were uncovered during the previous excavations, are now identifiable, with the Roman road, the pipes and the building structures being visible, which now gives us a visual aid when discussing our work with the public. These when the site is fully cleaned up can then be excavated in order to uncover any other secrets hiding beneath the soil.

Two of the groups today have been shown by Julie and Simon how to take level readings, this is an important part of surveying as it can tell us about the different depths of the features when carried out on the site. It will also be a lot easier when the recording is within the site as there will be little chance of a zoomed in face of a member of the public who just so happens to be walking by at the exact time you look through the lens. However, when understood this piece of equipment is easy to use and can show us how deep we have excavated, (which may also cause several muscles to cry as they remember removing the soil to create those depths).

However tomorrow's another day and there is more work to be done, but now I will sit back with a cup of tea and let my muscles relax.

Day 3: Ellen's guide to the 'hot' and 'not-so-hot' of digging

The first thing I noticed was how hot it was and how much harder than I thought it was going to be! When someone says dig a hole I expected it to be easier but it's a much harder task than I thought! The wheelbarrows are so much heavier than I thought and you can burn in English weather! Who'd have thought? 

We have had a few finds which have been cool! We found one cattle tooth which was awesome along with pieces of pottery and many clay pipe pieces. 

We have had a few people watching us dig, a couple of them laughed but at least were getting a tan as we work and the teams have become really close to each other and I think that's been the biggest highlight. We have all become good friends with each other by bonding, complaining about the hard work! 

But it has been fun even when you can't lift your arms up next day! 

Terram, be gone! - Sam's account of Day 2

Today we saw a continuation from yesterday, with many groups continuing the removal of the back spoil, at least for the first half of the day. Unfortunately, the weather of yesterday couldn’t be found anywhere during the morning, with rain and wind accompanying the start of the morning’s activities.

More of last year’s excavation was revealed during the opening few hours, hidden beneath the terram, including the Roman road and accompanying ditches, as well as the later Tudor tanning pit, excavated during the 2007 period. Once I substantial amount of the terram had been exposed, then the plan was to start removing it after lunch.

However, before we went ahead with the removal of the covering, Simon went over the correct method of filling in a context sheet, as we were to use these later on in the excavation. This quick outdoor lecture include the proper use of a Munsell colour chart, as well as the correct information to include in each field found on a context sheet, and a brief history of the development of said context sheet. Once this had finished, two groups moved into the trench and began removing the terram, while the other two finished removing what was left of the back spoil. This will hopefully mean that true excavation will happen tomorrow, on the third day of the dig.

After lunch, we see teams both removing backfill and uncovering 2014's excavation

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

OMG. Maddy reports on Day 2 in the trench...

Yay! Day 2! Was it as sunny as it was yesterday? No. Did I still get sunburnt? You can bet your bottom dollar I did.

Today was again mainly focused on getting rid of the rest of the backfill from last year which wasn’t bad however I have the same strength as a wet noodle I can definitely say getting rid of backfilling and using a wheel barrow is not my forte.

Jenny showed off her bodybuilder arms whilst Chiara expressed her undying love for the mighty ostrich and Sam continued to be my break time pillow, for which I was grateful. Cameron continued his habit of wearing questionable clothing, however he didn’t eat an entire block of cheese like yesterday so I suppose things are on the up for our resident dictator.

Simon taught us about the magic that is context sheets and how to fill them in, however the tent we were sitting near was attempting to come to life and kill us all so his words kept getting lost. However I must say Simon is a very relaxing public speaker and it felt much more like story time than an actual lecture which I believe made things sink in a lot better, it’s not as scary to fill in the sheet as I thought. The lovely Caroline also dropped in to say hello in the afternoon and let me tell you she’s a darn sight better than Barry imitating your accent (oh my god! ) every time you ask a question.

Overall though we had an excellent day of finding that random guy’s hoard of roman coins, pirate treasure, dinosaur bones, and Tutankhamun’s tomb! Can’t wait for tomorrow guys when we go dig straight through the middle of that round barrow! Remember nothing else matters but the treasure!

More on Day 1 from Selina...

The first day on the dig was certainly interesting – the weather turned from grey to sunshine before we’d even gotten out into the field and promised to continue for the rest of the day. Despite the slightly creepy building that was closed to due to fire damages, the short walk to the site held minimal issues. Whilst I was not even aware Chester had a park, which always struck me as odd, apparently it does and it’s a beautiful landscape. The area which our trench is set in is close to the road and one of the entrances so people that might be interested can come and watch, and perhaps catch one of us for a quick question or talk. After being put in our groups and given our respective areas, the “it’s so hot” and “I’m going to lose so much weight” comments broke out after a few minutes of digging (to which I’m sure the dirt and loose rocks/slates were happy to help with the latter goal).  Our first tea break resulted in me falling asleep whilst Jenny flaunted some homemade cookies behind our small group and gave us a promise of cake at some point in the dig – a true hero to us all.

After the break and returning to work, our particular group had the pleasure of digging far enough down to encounter a pipe, blocking our current digging path and causing us to go elsewhere. Simon gave wise words on how we should approach pipes (“always assume they’re live”), and we continued digging in another direction. Finds of clay pipes and pottery shards were being found across all different groups with a varying degree of excitement to each find. A small group of children came to admire the hardworking archaeologists that were bravely digging on the site, and were soon joined by some elderly going through the park, and eventually having the time to reach us and ask a few some questions about the site. With fingers crossed, the weather will continue and no mud or cold archaeologists will be encountered in the next four weeks.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Day 1 CAER 2015: So here we are...

So here we are… Having never been on archaeological dig before, the first day of excavation had been met with heavy scepticism on my part with thoughts of sitting in a puddle of muddy water precariously removing earth in an attempt to reveal features that I wouldn’t even recognise as features.

Come the end of the day although tired and a little sunburnt and in no way am I complaining about the enigma that is the English sunshine, I was on the whole presently surprised.
The mental images created prior to the dig of kneeling in a trench painstakingly scraping the surface with my trusty trowel had soon disappeared with the arrival of Mr Sunshine and the news that the use of a trowel would be limited. Instead, shovels and mattocks were on the agenda as the majority of the work was removing backfill to reveal the tarpaulin from the previous year’s dig. So alas, no ground breaking discoveries yet. Although a number of small finds had been found in the backfill, with 18th century clay pipes and slipware and a possible piece of amphora, (though I think we’re clutching at straws here).

Cameron had refrained from being the dictator that we had discovered on Halkyn the previous year and took up mattock duty while Ross, well Ross was just being Ross. I felt sorry for Selina having to put up with our somewhat uninspiring conversation topics of which Cameron’s questionable clothing attire remains prominent. Breaks had been generous with Simon and Co. likely taking pity on our cluelessness so cornettos in the sun were gracefully enjoyed at lunch. 

Do I feel like an archaeologist, sort of? Am I an archaeologist, how much does a fish need a bicycle? Being the first day we still have another four weeks of excavation which I am looking forward to, rain and all.