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.
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Friday, 3 June 2016

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 archaeology the lessons have been well and truly learnt.

I have volunteered on excavations, carried out post excavation work and furiously scribbled notes in lectures over the course of the last eighteen months, but realistically until all of these elements were combined I’d not really considered the diverse roles an archaeologist fulfils. We’re labourers, draughtsmen/women, cleaners, data recording personnel, investigators, public relations people and interpreters of the past. I’ve probably missed a few as well, but the point is a field archaeologist blends many disciplines to create a whole and I believe that all of us have come to appreciate just how complex a role full time archaeologists engaged in public works have.

Team C, of which I am a member, have been great to work with, so much thanks to Jonathan who sleeps in wheelbarrows atop the spoil heap, Yash, whose hair defies the laws of physics and Afnan/Amiko (whatever her name is this week) who I have good-naturedly bickered with incessantly over the course of the month, driving many people insane in the process. 

In fact thanks to everyone, staff and students alike I shall miss all this enormously and will be charging down to Grosvenor Park next year to see what the then second years have done with the place and resent them ever so slightly.

I’ll resent them even more if their tans are even half as good as mine.


Thursday, 2 June 2016

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 black burnished pottery. All in all it was a pretty productive end to the day and hopefully the finds will keep flowing tomorrow and Friday.

Most teams were setting up for the open afternoon as well as carrying on excavations in their areas of the trench, Matt and Beth had some well-preserved organic material from what is believed to have been a cess pit.

Aaron and Hannah continued to deepen the exploratory section within the medieval building; the majority of the section is now in a homogenous Roman layer with mixed grade pottery (fine wares, Samian and black burnished) and animal remains. 

The afternoon revealed a medieval pit at the northern end of the section with glazed medieval pottery mixed with masonry waste.

This afternoon, 2-4, it was our site open day. Everyone did their bit to engage with the public and enthuse people of all ages. The CAER team had finds on show at our interactive display area and students on the sites edge to give tours. Our most enthused visitors were often children, fascinated by finds from the ages - 

“that must be really really old pottery, if its older than my grandparents”, 

“it’s nice to think of my pets paw prints lasting for hundreds of years” 

 “I’d never thought of people combing their hair just like we do!”.

It’s nice to think we could be inspiring the next generation…

N.B. Thanks to Caroline, Amy, Howard and Morn who came to support us, be nosey and cheer us on. Special thanks to Caroline and Amy who in addition brought sweet treats to energise the workforce J

Team E


Wednesday, 1 June 2016

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 of dirty fingernails, dusty hair and trowel hand that we have become happily familiar with. Doughnut breaks will cease to exist, wheelbarrows will lie abandoned and left to rust with no one to nap in them. 

We've all had a great time on site and are very sad to see come to an end. Three weeks excavating a line of tree bowls may not sound as exciting as working on the Roman road, but it was just as thrilling as I found some great artefacts with the help of the fabulous Team D. My most notable finds are a decorated shard of Samian ware and a decorated piece of a Roman square bottle (see previous entries), which I was lucky enough to unearth. 

A big thank you to all the lecturers for making this year’s dig so enjoyable is needed, which I’m sure will come in the form of lots of free drinks at the end of the week! 


Team D and the rest of the excavation team are finally reaching the final act of this dig. Today we made further progress, we dug a little deeper, we found more artefacts and we learned a little bit more about the mysteries of life. Plus there was a dude dressed like a soldier from the civil war and he gave a tour and in honour of his presence we got out some of our more interesting civil war artefacts found on that site and showcased them to the public.

What else can I say but the dig was fun and the weather mostly held up [insert over-used derogatory English weather joke here] and we've got several days left.  I hope they will also be enjoyable and I hope we find more cool stuff. All in all GO TEAM D!!!

Whabba! Whabba!! Whabba