Showing posts from 2016
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The end of an era

So the dig has come to end and I'm sorry to see the end of it. It has been a fantastic 4 weeks with some amazing memories and people. The team work has been fantastic, seeing people come together to see the site done has been Amazing.

The site has produced such incredible things such as the Roman road, its roadside ditches, tree stump holes, a hearth and so much more. The finds that have come out of it will help future generations understand their history (such as the possible Roman coin and the handle of pottery not seen in Chester before!)

Putting the site away was both sad and hilarious (with team B trying and failing to put the teram over the site) it was heartbreaking to see the Roman road be covered up possibly never to be seen again. It was an amazing experience to be part of the team that uncovered the secrets of the road.

Anyway that's it from me, I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who's made this such an incredible month, such as Simon, Julie and Dan t…

Goodbye to all that

Yes I plagiarised the title for this blog; thanks Mr Graves; but having come up with several terrible puns for a title; trowels and tribulations, anyone?; I gave up. It’s not a goodbye to excavating, just an end of digging up Grosvenor Park. I will of course miss the old trench, it’s become something of a home to me, particularly context (1071) which I’ve made my very own, to the point of considering whether or not I should decorate and move in full time.
Almost four weeks ago all of this began and part way through the first week muscles and bones I’d completely forgotten about began to make themselves known to me, mainly by attempting to force themselves out of my body any old how. However, all of us have benefited through our experience; I myself am currently sporting an Olympian physique and I’ve just gotten off the phone to David Dickenson, who wanted some tanning advice. Some of that might not be true, but in terms of what we have all learned about the practicalities of field a…

Open Day and the wonders of the past

The morning mainly consisted of recording, with Lee and Iwan extending their original plan to encompass the entire section and practised the ancient art of balancing planning frames.

Jack and Callum worked on finishing the job of recording the stratigraphic layers, depth and position of a possible medieval fireplace in the south west corner of the trench, then allowing us to continue on and excavate more of the section, hoping to find further features that may confirm and date the first as a medieval fireplace. Excavating this area however, was not finished today and will hopefully be completed before the ever more closely looming deadline on Friday. 

Unfortunately for Jack, whilst he was performing his duty showing and explaining our finds to the open-day crowd, Callum hit a nice stash of pottery. This ended up being very productive as he filled a finds tray with Roman pottery in just under an hour, with some pretty cool finds like a large decorated rim and some large sherds of blac…

Group D: The Final Act

With this being the last week we thought it would be a good idea to give a summary of what our time on site has taught us. 
What the site has taught me is that an archaeologist needs patience in order to do the job properly. I noticed this when excavating a pit in the first week and continuing into the fourth only to find that it was actually the site of an uprooted tree! 
The four weeks have also taught me that teamwork is a necessity as without each other's help we would have accomplished next to nothing.  
Being on site has allowed us all to get some hands on experience with a real working site. This has allowed us to gain a knowledge that could only be gained by first-hand experience. The four weeks experience has been really enjoyable and has demonstrated what can be accomplished outside the classroom as well as giving an idea of what the future might hold. 

Today marks the beginning of the end. As I start the last week of our excavation, I can’t help but fear the lack o…

Heritage and that old Chestnut

Digging holes and interpreting what we find within forms a part of the role of an archaeologist. This is what we've been telling the numerous people who've stopped by to inspect our rather wonderful excavation. But why do it in such a very public place? Clearly the very obvious response is, because that’s where the archaeology is. However, we could just as easily clear off to a hillfort in Wales, excavating, recording and interpreting as we go; and we do.
Whilst the latter ticks all the boxes in terms of archaeological research it also lowers accessibility to the public generally and we run the risk of inadvertently returning archaeology to a realm of exclusivity typified by Chester’s amphitheatre excavations during the 1960’s. You’ll notice from the photograph that the impenetrable wall surrounding the site pretty much rules out any prospect of public participation; it also kept the archaeologists out of pubs, which is possibly a good thing. I realise that I am, to a greate…

Day 14 – The rain and the road

So today got off to a wet and bleak start - but it soon picked up and got better as the morning progressed. It was back to digging out a fill near the edge of the trench, in which we managed to find bits of pottery, animal bone and a tooth. A section drawing of the feature was also taken, which triggered a very productive afternoon!
The lifting of the Roman road also continued today which led to a very large number of finds, these are going to take some serious sorting! We are also thinking there may be a possible cess pit, Jonathan had fun with the smells coming out of that. 
We also had a couple of school visits today.  They really enjoyed seeing some exciting finds and learning about the site in general. It’s really great to see young people engaging with archaeology!
Overall it's not been the most exciting day in Grosvenor Park but we have made some seriously good progress and looking forward to what else we can find in the reducing time we have left.  
Dig Team A

The section that …

DAY 13: The Horde descends

Day three of week three Team E (still recovering from its laughing fit yesterday) continued carving through the western section of the trench:
Just after lunch we were visited by a horde of school children wanting to look at what we’d found and eager with questions about the Archaeology and the Romans. Talking to them was actually quite fun they seemed very inspired by the finds and interested in the bones and pottery in particular. 
Aaron and Hannah carried on removing the soil of their portion ending up with an excellently neat section by the end of the day. They managed to find plenty of pottery sherds from varying dates even finding a large chunk of handle and rim with some decoration on it.
Iwan and Lee continued their plight against the never-ending clay and managed to excavate a large hunk of bone out of the Roman rubble layer that they have been chasing all week before they remove it completely.
Meanwhile we finished excavating and cleaning a brick section near the corner, the day…

Day 12: Not so daunting after all

The second day of the third week seemed so daunting on the first day. However time has flown by and now there does not seem to be enough time left.
 Today was again a day were time flew. Team D again was split into two groups one of which were tasked with expanding context that we had been working for nearly the entire time that we have spent on site. Unfortunately the context was not as nice to us today as there were very little finds. In terms of what had been found today there was not many of great importance however Mona had a two sections of an unfused vertebra. 
Unfortunately after the morning came to an end and even with the help of Joe we just about managed to find the bottom and the end of the context.  After being in the same spot for what feels like forever, clearing a deposit of which we thought was a Roman feature, we had the misfortune to find out that it was in fact a hole made by a tree being uprooted. The excavation of this context was not in vain as Roman glass and som…

Day 11: A tale of two diggers

Group D began the day by sorting through the finds from site. Like a group of rejected Harry Potter extras we sat there staring into the ink blots, fountain pens poised to label each item with its context.None in team D were well versed in the use of fountain pens and for some, not to name names, the knack of using one came harder than others…..Matt Wilkie.
After the break group E then joined us and we were treated to a short talk on animal bones by Ian, a specialist who had come to help hone our skills. Bags of bone were handed out with the task of identifying the type of bone and the animal it belonged to, which proved to be challenging but really interesting. The hardest part of this process turned out to be working out which side of the animal the bone had come from. Relief from this came by finding the odd vertebral bones from time to time. After lunch we eagerly rushed to the site to do some digging and get some finds of our own. We were both given the task of mattocking down an …

Week Two Comes to a Close

With a Friday vibe onsite today, there was an enthusiasm to finish areas and round up the week.  
Onsite, good progress has been made,reaching the natural geology, the recording and subsequent excavation a selection of roman pits and post holes, in the north and south eastcorners of the trenchare nearly finished. 
A multi-facetted investigation of the medieval structure has given us some more clues as to its construction and potential uses. An intrusive section has been cut into the outer wall of the medieval building to see how far it was built in to the drainage ditch, whilst also confirming there were two stages of façade with a substantial supporting infill, of large masonry blocks. 
Yesterdays deluge of rain had turned the rock hard clay into a workable surface, after an intensive trowelling session a few new features came to light within the structure; a third fireplace emerged (to add to the suspected oven like hearths, currently being drawn and planned), two medieval pits and an …

The Ham, the Gherkin and the Mac.

Thursdays are always the hardest, the day before the last day before the weekend. You want rest, but you can’t rest, not yet.
The dig has slowed down a bit since last week, we’re doing a lot less heavy lifting and a lot more trowelling – at least we look like real archaeologists now (but we gotta cut down on the burgers, sadly).
Today Simon had us move around the trench, digging different places to get a feel for the site. Group C got split, so Nick and I worked on the assumed fill of the wall to the chapel. It was really rocky and full of rubble, the aim was to get it all out (it took longer than we expected it to). But Nick likes to be a macho man and took over the mattock straight away and began attacking the ground. Fun to watch, but there was a lot of rock hard, baked soil just being thrown into anyone’s face if they got closer than 2 metres. 
A lot of bone appeared around the ditches from the Johnathon and Yash (the other part of Group C), but not much else was found. Nothing prett…

Day 8: Trench warfare, the enemy, the clay

The day began with the mighty team E being allocated finds duty, washing identifying and recording finds from various contexts across the site including items such as bone, pottery and glass.This led to many amazing revelations including our very own Callum’s discovery of the fact that hot water is indeed hot. 
During first break we ventured to the site see what the other trowel monkeys had been up to, mainly carrying on the valiant fight against sun hardened clay or in the case of team A recording their finely trowelled features. 
After another stint at the finds washing HQ we returned to site where we discoveredthat team C had commandeered our allocated trench space and continued our glorious work of trowling to find the uniform charcoal layer that appeared across it. Team D continued work on excavating a cross section of a pitas well as defining the edge of one of the ditches and Matt doing his finest to mattock through a nigh on invincible lump of ground
The day continued with mostly…

The beginning of trowel wrist.

Today was pretty much a continuation from yesterday with team B (the best team) working on the roman road and the roadside ditches with everybody working on their own areas in the trench.Rachel and I were hunting for stones the whole day (with only a small amount of success and multiple shouts of “Stones” being shouted across the site) and Bethany and Bryony were excavating part of the roman road with a pretty awesome find of two connected vertebrae bones!
Some really cool things are starting to appear now with the hearth coming out at the far end of the site and next to the hearth the end of the medieval building is starting to appear! There have been some interesting finds such as teeth, pottery and lots and lots of bone!
We spent the day laughing a joking and some of us sat in wheelbarrows in the breaks! This dig is starting to shape up to be an amazing experience with some amazing people and I’m looking forward to spending the next few weeks on the site.
Blog again soon, Elysia!

Day 7: Biscuits, buttons and bribery

The realisation that archaeologists are fuelled entirely by biscuits and doughnuts has come as something of a revelation. You may not realise, but were it not for the humble peak frean assortment, little excavation work would ever take place.  So it’s thanks to Caroline and Meggen and their regular biscuit deliveries that we’ve progressed as far as we have.
To the excavationwhich, despite the risk of type 2 diabetes, enthusiastically continues. The finds are coming thick and fast, predominantly animal bone with a fair representation of Roman, medieval and post medieval potsherds all within similar contexts. This latter point is absolutely in keeping with the nature of the site which has been subject to periods of intense activity over course of almost 2000 years, with objects being churned around within the soil as building works displaced them from their original resting places.Aside from the more commonly found artefacts we continue to unearth what might be considered more interestin…