CAER 2018 Begins... Thursday 3rd May!

CAER 2018 Begins... Thursday 3rd May!
What will be uncovered this year?
We're back for our 12th season.
Keep up to date with all the discoveries, brought to you by our daily bloggers.

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Day 17 Friday madness, ice lollies and the pub!

Jess reports
Friday morning dawned bright and sunny yet again, and students buzzed around the site filled with the “Friday Madness”.
It's Friday!!
Team A spent the morning keeping cool in the shade of the Pavilion for their last finds session. This entailed bagging ‘small finds’ into individual bags and writing designated labels that separated them from the bulk finds. Once this was done, we continued to wash some finds, there’s something weirdly satisfying about cleaning animal teeth with a toothbrush!
The afternoon was then spent back in the trench and Team A were set to take down the surface surrounding a pit with mattocks. Despite the heat of the sun, we powered through and removed bucket after bucket of the baked clay surface. With only one or two injuries, the banter stayed high and the Friday madness continued.
Complex intercutting features under excavation...
A highlight of the afternoon, however, was the delivery of ice lollies from Amy, they made the work a lot easier! The end of the afternoon was rounded off nicely with a site talk from supervisor Dan as he explained all the features in both trenches!
Well-deserved ice lollies for afternoon refreshment!

Dan gives a re-cap of the week's findings.

At the end of a superbly hot week, we hurried down to the riverside to spend a well-earned few hours in the pub. With only two days left on site, it’ll be a shame to see the excavation come to an end, but here’s to a cracking couple of days next week and maybe more time at the pub!  

Friday, 26 May 2017

Some highlights from this year's finds...join us for our Open afternoon, Tuesday 30th May from 1.30pm to hear more...

This carved stone, probably an architectural fragment of Norman date, has just started to be uncovered in our new trench where it has been re-used in a later feature...

A Jetton: a French late medieval counter
A Jetton

 A beer bottle with a witch logo

A fragment of a beer bottle...
A fragment of ‘Facon de Venise’ wine glass, from the late C16th/early C17th
Fancy decorated glass

Day 15 and 16 have been scorchers but we're still working hard…we host some visitors and the surface of the Roman road is reached...
Today brought more sun and more finds, group E spent the morning doing our last finds session where we completed our interpretations of the contexts and bagged them up with small finds labels. We then began to select pieces to reference for our end of dig portfolio. After lunch we moved back to site to continue work on establishing the boundaries of the Roman road, where we found some more building material, pottery and animal bone.

A 'small find', a piece of stamped clay pipe stem.


Day 16 of the dig was certainly the hottest so far! Steph and Victoria cleared back the sandstone covering more of the Roman road, with tough mattocking as the ground was baked hard. After some much needed ice lollies and shade more of the Roman road was revealed. Which consisted of sandstone rocks and pebbles. Finds from this context included Roman glass, Samian pottery, bone and lead. We were visited by some school children who showed a keen interest in the excavation and one even said that he wanted to be an archaeologist. Sunblock at the ready it looks like another hot day tomorrow!

A working shot as hard work brings us to the Roman road surface at last!

Despite the sweltering conditions, we managed to get through a lot of material today! I spent most of my time excavating and drawing a small sandy pit, which contained a large amount of bones and nails. A residual piece of Roman pottery was also unearthed: quite different from our normal civil-war-era finds. As the temperatures climbed, the trench had some extra visitors: a group of primary school children. Matt showed off one of Trench 8's most complete finds: a piece of pig jaw, with tusk and teeth still attached. In the other trench, the team uncovered a 1734 copper coin (the year Rob Roy died).

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Day 14 and things are hotting up on site…

Today's main site lesson was the use of sun-cream! It was a very hot day on site making all the soil types incredibly dry and hard to excavate through. This didn’t stop our group though as we started to excavate down over the rest of the previously revealed Roman road so we could begin to see its full extent and hopefully find evidence of a road-side structure or building! Finds included numerous pieces of animal bone and pottery ranging from the medieval period and the Roman occupation as we got closer to the road’s surface. The standout find today from trench 7 was a possibly Viking or early medieval stone bead, which trench supervisor Dave was particularly fond of!

All round a very warm day of excavation but looking forward to the rest of the final full week on site.

Today we cleared some remaining rubble and fully exposed the linear brick feature in trench VIII. The team then drew corresponding site plans and documented the finds. Some of our more interesting finds consisted of pig mandibles and large assemblages of other bones including an animal humerus. The excavation team continues to rack up more metal finds such as nails and many different pottery sherds, as well as various ceramic building material. A majority of the team were able to identify the finds acquired over the last few weeks and sort each type of find ready for further analysis. For now we move on to the next area of the trench with mattock in hand to search for more corresponding features of trench VIII.

One end of the mysterious brick feature...a drain or not?!
The mysterious brick feature is still causing intrigue. We've cleaned and photographed it but still no idea what it is. It has yielded lots of pig and boar jaw bones and tusks. Dan the dig director fancied it as a gun emplacement but it might just be a plain old drain. So his enthusiasm for uncovering more has dampened and it will be left to next year’s students to discover what it really is. Time Team was never like this!  Amy brought cakes again - thank you Amy, we need the sugar rush now!  Just five more days, including our public day (Tues 30th!) when we are hoping for lots of visitors. 
Jaw bone.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Day 13 brings animal magic and marks the start of our last full week of digging…

The last week begins! A morning clearing up the newly exposed brick feature in trench 8 with large numbers of animal bones being recovered and saved from the mattock blade. Quite the coincidence as group D spent the afternoon exploring the complexities of animal bone identification.

Learning to identify animal bones
Tricky but intriguing work, followed by some photographic recording of both the brick and sandstone features appearing in the east end of the trench. The mysterious brick feature will hopefully reveal its purpose as the week goes on...

The cleaned up brick-feature ready for photographing and planning...hopefully excavation will reveal more about its function (Where's the scale though guys? (Ed.))
Hard at work removing the deposits...

A copper alloy token.

Victoria B…

The start of the final full week brought the promise of sun. Team A started the day off by cleaning up a section ready for recording. After morning tea break, several groups went to the pavilion to learn about animal bone and how to identify the major bones within a mammal and some differences between species.
In the afternoon, recording of the newly exposed contexts began in trench IV. This involved setting up a horizontal string line to measure down from, in order to accurately record the deposits visible in section.
Setting up ready to record the section through the deposits.
The beginning of our last full week turned out to be a very full and interesting day, as my group started the day we began by sorting out the archaeological finds that we have each personally cleaned, labelled and marked to then be further recorded. In the afternoon we then had a zooarchaeology session which was very interesting and personally the highlight of my day. During the session we were taught how to identify pieces of bone that we had excavated and record, and the basic bone structure of animals which I found really interesting and how to identify the bones. Then the rest of the day was spent cleaning an area to reveal more of the roman road which was discovered the previous week. Overall the day was interesting and fun and I hope this is a continuing theme through out the week which I have a feeling it will be.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Day 12 Finds and features for a feel good Friday! Matt, Abbi and Amelia report…

Friday morning saw Neil and I mattocking away at the densest part of the demolition layer in Trench VIII, with detectorist Colin nimbly avoiding the swinging blades to check newly exposed layers for metal finds. The quantities of roof slate, mortar and brick made for hard-going and comparatively few finds other than animal bone and the odd rusted nail. Even our ever-present friends the clay pipes seem to have deserted us; maybe an indication that we’re reaching 16th century layers that pre-date widespread tobacco smoking. One new find was the discovery of three striped escargot snail shells, close to a cluster of oyster shells. Classed as neither fish nor meat, snails made the ideal snack food for Lent, though they might be eaten year-round by the poorer members of society.
Group B’s afternoon was spent classifying and marking the finds we’d previously cleaned. Splitting them first by material type (ceramic, metal, glass, bone, pipe-clay) and then each material by period (Roman, medieval, post-medieval, modern) we soon had the artefacts sorted into piles. Identifying labels were written for each pile, and then a summary of all the finds was entered into a recording sheet.
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Washing and marking-up the finds
Lastly I spoke with Dan the site director regarding a 3D model of Trench VIII that I’d made from photos taken on the previous Friday; he’s happy with the model and interested in capturing Trench IV the same way as soon as its ready to be recorded. The complex multi-layered surface should make for an interesting challenge. You can see the model of Trench VIII here.

What a day! Great morning for team A of labelling finds from a post medieval context today, with a few residual pieces of pottery and ceramic from the medieval and Roman periods in my tray!
The afternoon started with a chill but soon warmed up as Team A set to work covering at least three features across the site, A possible floor is found, is it medieval? Most likely. Do we know what it is? Not just yet. But soon an interpretation can be matched to it next week! The charcoal deposits and sandstones in the clay like soil was difficult to remove as Jess and I, with the handy help of Dave the supervisor, revealed bit by bit the solid sandstone flooring of a possible medieval building, the first sign of an occupational context for Team A yet!
A stone floor is revealed???
Keep alert for following posts from Team A, and have a fantastic weekend :) 

Team A spent the morning doing another finds session, this time labelling the separate types of finds, identifying what they could be, then followed by another go at finds washing.
The afternoon saw the group in three sets of two this meant that Sophie and I were back working on our pit, now named George. Thankfully the weather was warmer and a lot drier than previous days,  which made recording the pit a lot easier. After drawing the second half of the pit it was time to take levels using the dumpy level and fill out the context sheet. Once this was done it was time to start excavating another pit that ours cut through. It’s going to be exciting to see what this shows us!!
Now everyone can have a relaxing weekend and will be refreshed for more digging on Monday.
Continuing excavation of the earlier pit or this space
Day 11 Rain's about? All-in-One’s out! Jess and Sophie tell us how archaeologist’s cope with the British weather…

For today’s archaeologists, it was a typical British Summer’s day; we all rocked up to site keeping cool with sleeveless tops and cold coffees and by twelve o’clock the world decided to rain on our parade, literally.
Team A kicked the day off by splitting into two smaller teams, and whilst Sophie and Amelia discovered the secrets that lay within a pit, the rest of us spent time plotting and planning the charcoal and sandstone deposits within the trench. Using specialised equipment such as a dumpy level, and measuring pole, the site’s height above sea level was recorded and added to the drawings in order to compile a fuller understanding of the site. It was during this that the rain poured on us and Steph finally got to try her all-in-one waterproof, much to the delight of the rest of us!
The afternoon brightened up and we all complained, once again, about the heat as Team A returned to the trench to finally get our hands dirty and begin taking down the now recorded surface, revealing the extent of the features below. Hopefully some details of these will become apparent in the next few days!
All in all (or All-in-One!) the day was yet another positive day on site for us, we didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits!

It's cool to be dry...

After a week of miserable weather we were all pleasantly surprised to be greeted on site by warmth and sunshine, excited to finally dig out the pit we had discovered at the end of last week. This was short lived. As the heavens opened we watched our lovely pit slowly turn into a pond and the site swiftly became a mud bath. Still, we continued to trowel away at what can only be described as glue to expose the natural clay and another cut within the feature, as well as a third charcoal layer next to it. Our afternoon consisted of "cleaning" up the pit ready for recording and trying to decide what it is. With a couple of theories flying around about it being a gully or a cesspit etc. it's fair to say we are all keen to get back to work tomorrow to see what else we can find out about this pit and finally find some treasure buried within, instead of sandstone, sandstone and more sandstone.
A beautifully 'clean' pit cut into the clay, clearly showing another cut feature in one side
Day 10 Ben and Steph report on a damp but productive day…

Wednesday was another damp day, but the weather didn't stop us unearthing some great finds! Matt and I found keys (still no locks though), but the star find of today has to be the four dice dug out of the building's hearth (evidently a poor roll). They were probably used for a game like Hazard, but I'm holding out for Dungeons and Dragons.

Four bone dice

A key!
It was a chilly day on site for day 10 of the dig, with a bit of rain, but still plenty of work was going on. Team A spent the morning planning and drawing sections on site to record the Roman features we have discovered. In the afternoon we were finds processing, practicing marking finds with the site code and context number, ready for specialists to look at. The finds being washed and marked included clay pipe, pottery, roof and floor tile and building material. Other groups also planned parts of the site and continued to excavate. Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow!