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!
Today we experienced our first rain of this year’s dig but unfortunately apart from lowering the temperature it did little or nothing to alleviate the difficult digging conditions.
A surprise but welcome visitor to the site was a gentlemen who took part in Miss Mottram’s excavation of the temple in the mid 1950’s. His recollections and any written material from that time will be a great addition to the evolving story of Caistor.
Today we were treated to an event hitherto not seen during the life of the Caistor Roman Project, although he begs to differ. I refer of course to the sight of Martin and a drawing board in the same frame, as proven by the image below. Of course his GCE in Technical Drawing was so long ago he is probably having difficulty working out which way up to hold the pencil.
Joking aside much of the last couple of days has been taken up with drawing and its been great that the likes of Linda, Val and Martin have been prepared to take on the challenge. They may have had a gentle nudge or two from Rhiane but it is the only way that we can spread the load a little wider and ensure that the same one or two individuals don’t end up being saddled with all of the drawing.
The image below is a view of the site from the North.
Excavation conditions remain extremely challenging with searing temperatures and baked earth to contend with. The highlight of the day has been a GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) survey of the part of the ancillary building lying outside the excavation area. This was kindly conducted by Tim Dennis a colleague of Geoff’s. Once the data has been analysed it should provide crucial information on the depth of the building walls, in particular. This in turn will help inform our excavation strategy in the ancillary building. Given the extremely taxing digging conditions, allied to the limited time available, it is clearly imperative that we make the most of the time available to us.
GPR Survey in progress
Hats off to everyone on site today. In temperatures pushing beyond 25 degrees celsius the teams have made steady progress in all three trenches. To date the ditch trench is producing the most pottery in terms of quantity and variety with a small selection of pre-Roman sherds and some decorated samian.
Trench 1 over the ancillary building is now showing a good length of wall in all its glory with intriguingly a couple of very large pilae tiles at the western limit of the trench. The purpose of these has yet to be established.
Wall and spread of building material showing nicely in Trench 1
The potential post holes in Trench 2 showed up well following a quick application of water from the killaspray. The plough scarring also shows up well after spraying.