The final day of our excavation on the Temple field saw feverish drawing activity in each of the three trenches. For much of the day we had five people drawing in trench one as can be seen in the image below.
It would be remiss not to mention the work that went in to the processing of the large quantity of CBM (Ceramic Building Material) that was excavated from each trench. A big pat on the back for everyone who participated in that effort. The image below gives some idea of the quantity removed from just one trench.
All of the people who contributed to the successful completion of this excavation are too numerous to name individually but particular thanks must be extended to Chris and Daniel Skinner for allowing us complete this project on Temple field and to the Heritage Lottery Fund for providing the necessary financial resources. Will Bowden, Giles Emery and Andy Barnett provided the vital professional oversight and guidance whilst Dave Bescoby and Tim Dennis provided the geophysical survey input. Chrissy Sullivan organised the logistical support and her excellent crew in the marquee kept the tea and cakes flowing. Nat Harlow and Tony Morter were kind enough to camp out giving us resident site security. Finally thanks to the 30 or so volunteers who turned up every day and grafted either in the trenches, sieving or providing much needed support in the marquee.
On this the penultimate day of the dig three further walk and talk tours of the site were held for the benefit of the public. Unlike last Sunday’s visitors day the weather shone favourably on us today, although this did make for fairly challenging photographic conditions.
Digging has now been concluded with the bottom of the ditch in trench 3 having been reached following sterling work by Mick. The ditch has proved to be a serious feature in its own right and would have been accompanied by an impressive bank made up from the upturned soil created by its construction. As an added bonus running parallel to the ditch is a much smaller and shallower ditch/gully. The image below shows our professional Archaeologist Giles Emery of Norvic Archaeology checking out the bottom of the the large ditch. Demolition material from the ancillary building can be seen in the section beyond him.
Tomorrow will see the completion of drawing and final photographs followed by clearance of the site and backfilling of the trenches on Monday.
With the end of the dig rapidly approaching the race is on to complete all of the outstanding excavation work and we appear to be close to achieving this objective. This will hopefully leave some of Saturday and all of Sunday to complete recording and drawing.
The ditch in trench 3 has turned out to be a significant feature in its own right with the bottom reached at one side of the trench just before close of play. Demolition material from the ancillary building, in the shape of large flints and broken tile, came out of the fill so the ditch was open when the destruction of the building took place.
Dr. Dave Bescoby augured across the bottom of the valley below the ancillary building which ruled out the existence of a stream at any time in the past, so the choice of location for the building remains something of a mystery at the present time. The image below shows auguring in progress.
The results of the GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey of the temple have been received and strongly suggest that the building enjoyed multiple development phases.
Cake production reached epic proportions today with pride of place going to Sue’s lovely commemorative example below. Such was the quantity of cake on offer that we decided to save it for tomorrow.
Meanwhile the conundrum that is trench 1 is gradually being unpicked producing an ultra relaxed approach to digging as demonstrated by Richard.
Carly from Current Archaeology magazine visited the site and was given the grand tour by Will.
It will now be eyeballs out to complete the outstanding work in all three trenches as we have just three days in which to complete this excavation. Where have I heard that one before?
Temple Field dig open for tours
This Saturday 1 September only
You can visit the dig and see our progress. Among other things we have discovered the remains of what we believe to be a large high status house with a tessellated floor. There will be tours at 11.00, 14.00 and 15.00 on Saturday 1 September. All are welcome to see the dig in action and find out what we are doing.
We look forward to seeing you! Please note the site is not open at other times.
With the clock ticking the weather decided not to co-operate today dropping continuous rainfall on the site for most of the morning. Trench 2 team beat a retreat in to the marquee to catch up on paperwork whilst the teams in trenches 1 and 3 soldiered on, care being taken to ensure that conditions were still workable before getting back in to the trenches. Trench 3 continues to produce small quantities of pre-Roman pottery.
The image below shows the complex nature of the trench over the ancillary building. The dump of broken tile is being cleared from the top end of the trench, with the wall running across the trench from just in front of the three buckets.
The second image shows a close up view of the wall with the tessellated flooring running right up to it.
The cake fairies exceeded themselves today with a choice of pineapple and ginger, coconut cubes, chocolate, toffee and peanut squares and last but not least rocky road brownies.
The enigma that is Trench 3 continues to tease as can be seen by the expression on Rob’s face. It is however looking splendid and will no doubt reveal its secrets in the coming days, or not as the case may be.
Trench 1 is proving particularly challenging with 4 or 5 separate areas currently being investigated in an effort to unpick the archaeology from amidst the destruction wreaked by the robber trenches.
Meanwhile the team representing Norvic Archaeology were practicing their starts for the 8m trench crawl. Note the smartly attired starter patiently awaiting the go ahead from the race Director.
Following yesterday’s prolonged spell of rain digging conditions have, at least for the time being, improved significantly.
More of the tessellated floor has been gradually emerging in the building trench whilst the gateway trench has produced a small amount of painted wall plaster. The ditch trench, currently sans ditch, produced a number of sizeable coloured glass vessel fragments.
The current state of the excavation in the trench over the ancillary building is shown in the image below.
150+ members of the public visited the site today for a series of guided tours at 11.00, 2.00 and 3.00. Unfortunately the latter two were conducted in fairly inclement weather but it was pleasing to witness so much interest in this particular excavation.
Those members of the public who visited the site today were treated to something rather special for Norfolk. In the main trench over the ancillary building we now have in situ tessellated flooring comprised of red tesserae. This has been truncated towards the northern end by a robber trench but is still visible in a small slot that we have opened up towards the inside face of the wall. We may therefore have a reasonable expanse of surviving flooring. Given the relative depth of the wall indicated by the Ground Penetrating Radar survey it is conceivable that we may have a room with underfloor heating but further work will be required to establish whether or not this is indeed the case. The image below shows the floor emerging in our slot on the inside of the wall.
The deluge of the previous evening proved to have soaked in to a depth of at least 50mm providing somewhat less strenuous trowelling conditions for the first time and certainly damping down the dust generated during sieving.
The two probable post pads in the ditch trench have now been fully excavated by Andy and Rob so good progress is being made here. See below.
Over in the large trench investigating the ancillary building, it is looking as though construction material has been removed at some time in the past as evidenced by what appear to be large robber trenches immediately to the south of the wall and somewhat further towards the north end of the trench. The enigmatic burnt area in the north western corner of the trench has yet to be resolved but may indicate a later phase of activity within the building. The wall itself is slowly being exposed, and from what has been revealed so far, is very well constructed and faced with dressed flints. Today produced the first glimpses of painted wall plaster in the shape of two small pieces, one bearing red paint and the other green.
A busy day to end the week with the by now traditional show and tell of some of the week’s finds at lunchtime, finishing with a very well attended quiz and BBQ in the evening. The rain did it’s level best to spoil the latter but Andrew in true bulldog spirit defied the deluge to produce the edibles.
Visits by representatives from Historic England and the Regional HLF office went well and we believe we gave a positive impression of a well run excavation.
It would be remiss to close the first week without mentioning the sterling work being carried out by Chrissy and her crew in the marquee. They have been wading daily through mountains of CBM (Ceramic Building Material) without a word of complaint, diligently categorising whilst keeping a sharp lookout for interesting features such as animal prints. We have already had a probable cat’s print this week, indicative of a feline walking over a tile whilst it lay drying in the East Anglian sunshine over 1500 years ago.
Yesterday’s blog entry was completed late yesterday evening but disappeared into the ether whilst editing was being attempted, hence the late posting. I am pleased to report that at the time of writing my computer is still in one piece!