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.
Keep up to date with all the discoveries, brought to you by our daily bloggers.

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Thursday, 3 June 2010

A 2010 season final summary

Dig Director Simon outlines the results from the 2010 season -

The four weeks of digging has now been completed. The tools are back in store and the site has been wrapped up in its 'geo-textile membrane' ready to be backfilled next week for another year. It was a good dig with lots of hard work by the students and some interesting finds. I hope they learnt lots of new skills and I think they enjoyed themselves as well.

We made some interesting discoveries which we think relate to Cholmondeley's Mansion, the house that was here before the Park. Two parallel trenches may be robbed-out walls of outbuildings or a yard attached to the south side of the house. We also may have found the site of a pig pen! That's one explanation of a small area of clay that had been paddled around. It's given me something to think about as I get the records in order and the plans and photos sorted out. Well, that's all from me for this year!

Meggen writes -

It has been a good season in the park this year. Thanks to all the students and staff that worked so hard. Thanks also to all those reading our blog! We hope you enjoyed following the story of our dig and that you'll check back next year for the 2011 season - new diggers, same staff(!), new finds and maybe even a different trench...

Until 2011...

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The end is nigh...

Michael C reports -

Four weeks - it seems like a long time, but the past four weeks have flown by. They say time goes fast when your having fun. Over the past four weeks we've had a chance to have an insight into the excavation process and develop our techniques and have a lot of laughs whilst doing it.

Today we started with a bit of light mattocking and troweling whilst enjoying the sun. The afternoon consisted of assigning small finds numbers to special artefacts and learning how to conserve these artefacts and a bit of finds washing mixed in with a bit of banter.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Walls not ditches?

Rachel writes -

Today was a day of excavation for group A. Aaron and I worked on taking the baulk out to reveal the clay in trench VI, which took all day! This morning the sun was shining on us, but this afternoon returned to normal and the rain came. Sadly this meant that I found out that my 'waterproof' coat was not quite as waterproof as I had anticipated! Regardless of the rain, we still managed to have fun. I have really enjoyed the past four weeks, it has given me a great insight into fieldwork and I feel like I have learned a lot.

Jonathan writes -

The day started of with some cleaning of what we thought was a section of the robbed out boundary wall. As the day continued, this feature started to mutate into what we now think could be part of a robbed out wall of a structure. This coupled with the feature that was found in group A's area could indicate some form of building. So what started off in the morning as a simple clean back ended the day for group A in the same place that we had started, on our umteenth clean back. The day closed out with group B digging down to what we think is probably the natural layer for the site, although bits of pottery were found so who knows exactly. The mystery of the site deepens and with two days left we need to pick up the pace if we're to understand the site - as well as to stop next year's lot getting the interesting stuff.

Meggen updates -

Another day and another problem to solve. Our parallel 'ditches' now look more like robbed out walls - with possibly even a wall connecting them (which would probably mean a building!). We won't know more until we can plan and then dig a little deeper tomorrow. We also seem to have found another feature in relation to one of the wall/ditches. We need to explore the stratigraphic relationship and we aren't really sure what this is. We've only caught a small bit of it in the excavated area. The other puzzle today was that we started to dig a sondage into what we were betting was natural clay - only to find artefacts in it (including some Roman grey ware). So it isn't natural, but possibly redeposited natural as more clay that seems pretty clean (no finds) is underneath it. Well, so far. The way things are going we'll dig deeper and find the site is even more complicated! A good day though - despite the rain. For the students - digging, planning and some practice using the survey equipment (a total station). For me - standing around pointing and then making piles of spoil for students to clean up! The privilege of experience....

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The final week begins

Meggen updates -

Today was a recording day on site - cleaning up, photographs and planning. This is all in preparation for doing some serious digging over the final three days. There are the two parallel 'ditch' features to figure out and a series of clay layers that don't appear to be the natural subsoil. Some of these areas have a very distinctive 'cobbly' surface, which might mean they were either dug into or perhaps trampled surfaces. After being quite happy thinking we had our boundary ditch, we are now not so sure ... only more investigtion will tell us the answer. And like the classic TV programme that shall remain nameless....we've only 3 days to do it!

Dean writes -

The end of the dig is in sight, evidenced by the fact our group started rather sluggishly today after having a sunny Monday off. We did manage to clean up the site for photographs, however, before a post-break planning session. After demolishing a foot-long Subway at lunch, we were back to the exciting task of cleaning and marking finds from previous days. However, one of the groups (who have not yet owned up to the crime) have clearly enjoyed toiling in the mud so much, that they have been puttings lumps of it in the finds trays, some of which is suspiciously brown and smelly. Nick W's gallant efforts of cleaning lumps of the substance with a toothbrush were to no avail, but have proven the metaphor to be correct, as it was physically impossible to polish a turd.

This is my last blog and so my final opportunity to say how enjoyable the whole dig has been from start to (nearly) the finish. There's been loads to take in, but everyone seems to have been keen to learn. Simon and his team have been great; although, I shall be reserving my final judgement until I know what mark they've given me! Roll on Friday, and a beer in The Falcon.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A Successful Saturday Open Day

Meggen writes -

What a great day on site. We didn't get too much digging done, but new features did emerge today including what looks like another ditch parallel to our first one! Not quite sure what is happening yet but we've got four more days of digging next week to try and figure it out.

The big event today was our Saturday Open Day. From 10am we had a pretty steady stream of visitors getting site tours, looking at and even helping us wash finds, making their own dig-inspired medieval floor tiles and the smaller would-be archaeologists excavated in their own 'mini-dig.' The sun beat down all day, my shoulders are sunburnt and I don't think I sat down once in 6 hours. Thankfully I had a great bunch of archaeology students (including some helpful final year students) and a group of history students really doing all the hard work. We hope everyone enjoyed it!

Karen adds -

Wow! Another amazing day both in the weather and our Open Day!
Our full Open Day started as the heat climbed even higher than yesterday! We had many visiters to our site, all of whom were very interested in what we were doing in the trench. The finds, excavated in the Park over the years, were much admired especially as some were able to make their own Medieval tile with the Potter and compare them with the real tile. All the students, archaeology and history, worked so hard and continued to keep a smile on their faces!

Some, we discovered, had hidden talents - like Hayley who 'wowed' the future young archaeologists. Others, like Michael C. was an absolute hit with a group of lively ladies celebrating a 'Hen-Party' ..... I think he is still recovering from the shock of that experience!
As for our supervisors, they were unflagging in their enthusiasm and cheering us on as we began to wilt slightly towards the end of the day!
Oh yes - archaeology and the dig. We did find a possible feature that is running parallel to the boundary ditch, which we hope to find out more next week whe we go back on Tuesday.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Friday's Open Day!

Hayley updates us for Friday -

Today was scorching hot, it felt like we were sat in a sauna! However, it is the best weather we've had so far on the dig so I shouldn't complain.
This morning the groups were excavating and clearing up the site in preparation for the afternoon. We were all very tired from the heat, but inspiration came in the form of Meggen's amazing cookies and brownies to rally us on.
The afternoon was a great success with the first public open day. There were numerous vistors to the site; unfortunately not many kiddies to try out the mini dig as they were most likely in school, but hopefully there will be a lot more tomorrow. Fingers crossed for another glorious day!

Nick writes -

The group started the day off with photography, our second session of this. We took some pictures of the whole site from several angles, and they turned out great.
By lunchtime the sun was soaring as we had a bit of a heat wave on site; the suntan lotion was applied and we got to work setting up our open day. Activities such as finds washing and mini digs were held, with a reasonable turn out. By the looks of things today, we should have a very busy day tomorrow.

Karen writes -

Well - summer has come and I want it to be cold again, please!
We had a busy morning trying to plan. As always, Jonathan and I take our time and care.....after a false start of course! We needed to do this so the context could be taken down to the next one.
In the afternoon we had the first of the Open Day sessions. As the temperature soared it was like watching one of David Attenborough's programmes - the march of the ants! Chester was subjected to interestingly dressed students carrying tables, chairs and wheel-barrowing items needed for the afternoon.
A good time was had by all - especially by the more loquacious of us! Although there were not many children - in fact only one turned up to be a future Indiana Jones and tackle the treasures of our mini trench! Her daddy really enjoyed it! Many people were very interested in the finds and to learn about the dig and interpretation of the site so far.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Thursday = Cheese Day

Gary D and Mike C report -

Today was 'Cheese Club' day and we all brought to site different cheeses with various crackers, grapes and olives. Was great - only problem was that we ate so much cheese no one wanted to do any digging afterwards!! We managed to get some planning done in trench VI of the possible boundary ditch and associated contexts. Once the dairy products had settled, some light digging in trench VII also filled the afternoon. Not many finds today, but hopefully more to come tommorrow.

Meggen writes -

I can't believe three weeks have gone already. Tomorrow afternoon is the first of our 'open days' so today was spent doing errands for that, an radio interview for local station Dee 106, trying to get the satellites to co-operate for our GPS (they didn't), generally teasing the students in the afternoon to make them work faster and baking up a storm this evening to keep them all happy tomorrow! I swear that baking isn't in my contract....

Make sure if you are in Chester on Friday or Saturday you stop by the park and say hello! Let us know if you've been keeping up with the blog and get a tour of the trenches, a chance to look at our finds and we've even got some activities to keep little ones happy.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Finds, sections and doughnuts

Rachel writes -

This morning saw Group A in Albion Street with the finds. We bagged up the finds that we had marked and wrote labels to go with them so we know what they are and where they came from. Jonathan and I then went on to wash some finds, which is very therapeutic!
After luch we were back on site and doing some section drawings of the pipe cut in trench VII. We set up the level to see if our section string was straight and after a slight mishap with the levelling staff (one member of the group managed to pull it apart), we found that everything was as it should be. The weather today was cloudy but at least we managed to stay dry.

Mike D reports -

It was a rather quiet morning on site as one of the groups was working away from the site on the finds, and a few were off ill. So, a few of us were given the job of levelling out the surface in trench VI. This unfortunately wasn't easy mattocking as the ground was full of thick, stubborn rocks. Around mid-morning, we moved on to trowelling, but the earth was quite crumbly so I couldn't help thinking we were making things worse.
After a steak pasty and quick read about the troubles at Arsenal FC, we headed back to the dig site. Maria and I were under the impression that we would be excavating that afternoon, but Simon asked us to finish off a plan left by Hayley and Jenny. We rose to the challenge; finishing off all necessary squares whilst discussing the assignment due for tomorrow.
Thanks again to Aaron today for returning from Tesco's with chocalate and jam doughnuts!

Jonathan writes -

The day started with finds in the morning for group A. This session played to the strenghts of an obsessive sorter and cataloger such as myself. While these sessions are relativly stress free in the work that you are doing, they do show how much effort and work has to be done with all the objects that are found on site - something that some people don't consider when thinking about the excavations. In the afternoon section drawing was on the menu for group A, something that I don't think is my forte. Whilst today was not high on new findings for group A, a lot was accomlished in terms of the more mundane (from the perspective of most people) tasks, which are things that explorers of the dirt find interesting.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

A famous visitor....

Dean's account of the day -

The sun does strange things to people. As temperatures soared, the great and the good of Chester seemed to spring into life, with an above average amount of visitors to the dig today. Whilst heckles of "stupid architects!" and "have you found any mummies?" might bring the school system into question, the majority of visitors were genuinely interested and had an impressive grasp of their local heritage.
To round off a vistor-packed afternoon, Ron Dixon of 'Brookside' fame came to have a nose at the archaeology; although, those born after 1990 had no idea who he was. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Sinbad or Jimmy Corkhill.

Jenny writes -

We all started off the morning doing excavation, but did not do this for long as we had an interesting talk about how to do soil sampling and why it is important. My group then did another photography session, which also involved creating some humourous 'action' shots of both our team and the other team on site by getting people to obviously pose as if they were working (not that they weren't working haha!). The weather has put everyone in a good mood and has brought more people out to the park and so we are getting more interest in our dig .

Meggen comments -

Work is progressing well. Yesterday was all action, but today's progress was a bit more laid-back. Our recent water pipe in Trench VII appears to have a new element to it, which we've been able to see as the soil dries. It looks like it is either sitting in a recut of a bigger trench or we have another rather large feature or deposit to explore.
I haven't been able to be on site much this week due to office commitments. I fear the students are getting restless, as they were demanding baked goods and imported American snack cakes! At least they are still working hard.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Let the sun shine!! A lion's face?

Maria updates us on the start of week three:

Today we finally had sun! My group started off the morning taking various photographs of different trenches from up a ladder and on the ground at different angles. Doing this, I learned that I am definitely no David Bailey! In the afternoon we split up into two pairs and planned different features, which took a very looong time! A good day to start the week so far!

Ross tells us about his day:

Finally some sunshine! Perfect weather for digging and planning (and a pre-work kickabout!). Not perfect, however, for photography, as those of us in group D soon discovered. As shadows crept forth from all the nooks and crannies and into the corners of our shots, the blazing sun cast its glare upon every reflective surface and down the lens of our camera. Otherwise it was quite a productive morning as we learned how to compensate for the shadows and frame a better picture.
The afternoon was to be spent planning features and our group was split into two. As Mike D and Danny moved into trench VII and the shade of a large tree, Maria and I ended up in the open area of trench VI, drawing a plan of a patch of mortar and clay. The many lumps and bumps of the feature, which had to be meticulously planned, combined with the blazing heat made this something of a frustrating experience. Needless to say we were ecstatic when it was finished!
Although we had no interesting finds, Aaron came across what appeared to be a floor tile bearing a Lion's face - face down in the dirt it could have easily been taken as a simple piece of rubble and cast into the spoil heap. Well done to Aaron for taking the time to examine it!

Aaron describes his find:

Today was a full day of excavation for group A with us removing the fill of the cut, which Group B was doing at the end of last week. We believe it to be the robbed out remains of the original boundary that divided the church from the lands beyond.
My prize find today was a decorated tile with what could ether be a stylised lion or a chap with a funny beard. (See my picture above!)

Friday, 14 May 2010

A Ditch!

Nick reports:

My group started the day off with some photography, learning how to create the best shot for the best record. We all had a good go and took some decent pictures of a couple of features. During the afternoon we continued with some excavation and potentially made a good discovery. A linear ditch was discovered running through trench VI, which may be the robbed out remains of a boundary wall separating the church with the park or 17th century mansion.
We were graced with the presence of a male model when Mike C. arrived back from lunch with a dashing new haircut. Finally the day was finished with a site summary by Simon and a classic example of Ross tripping over.
All in all an enjoyable day.

Hayley updates us for Friday:

Rain, rain and more rain this morning, unfortunately. Group C had the job of drawing a section, which is a visual record of the stratigraphic sequence in which layers of soil have formed over time. Luckily we had waterproof paper!
A very exciting find was also dug up in the morning by Group D - a vintage crushed Vimto can. The rain kindly held off for the afternoon while Group C excavated the North area of trench VI. Mountains of clay pipe fragments were uncovered along with a green glass bottle, which was the same as the one discovered last Friday bearing "Edmunson's & Co - Liverpool Birkenhead" and what - again - looks like a witch on a swing. It must be a Friday thing. Spooky.

Karen writes:

When will summer come?

Today started rather wet! Had there been anyone silly enough to amble through the park this morning - they would have seen a strange sight of hunched, wet students kneeling in the mud ...... praying, perhaps for sunny weather. Well.....actually we were cleaning back a wide area of the trench to try to find an 'edge' that could be interpreted as the original boundary of St. John's Church. While we were doing that, others were perched precariously on a ladder to try and take photographs of a 'feature'. One group was drawing a section of a trench ..... lovely sitting down job in the rain! Alas there were nobody to see us - how sensible!
Thankfully, this afternoon we had a lovely job of writing tiny letters and numbers onto tiny pieces of ceramics! I would have really enjoyed it, but I forgot my glasses. So with much squinting and reassurance from my eagle-eyed young companions I managed to complete the task. I am so glad I did not have to do the hundred or so of tiny clay pipes, like Aaron had to do!
Despite the cold and rain this week, it has been great fun.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Hungry Nick W...

Meggen writes:

A unique find on site today - a sandwich the size of Nick's head! A perfect day for digging.

Michael C and Gary D report on Thursday -

This morning we had a chance to develop our drawing skills, we were given the task of drawing two sections of the trench to record the changes in layers and the cuts of the trenches. In the afternoon we we busied ourselves by mattocking and troweling away to level a section of the site whilst enjoying the brief bit of sunshine that we had experienced all day.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Photographs, plans and pipes

Rachel reports on Wednesday's activities:

This morning started with Jonathan and I cleaning up a feature (maybe a post-hole) so that it could be photographed by another group; this just involved scraping all the loose soil off the surface and did not really take that long. After this we moved on to bigger things, mainly uncovering the pipe that runs through trench VII. This involved digging a layer at a time (stratigraphically), carrying on from where yesterday's group had finished. After lunch it was my group's turn to start planning in trench VI. This involved putting up tape measures and setting up survey arrows every metre so that we could put down a grid and plot what features were in it. It started to rain as we did this, but luckily the paper we were using was waterproof so it didnt get smudged and dirty, which is always a good thing! We did not manage to finish the planning but we will get it all done tomorrow morning - hopefully without the rain!

And Jonathan writes:

The day started off for group A with some simple tasks around site such as the construction of the mini gazebo and putting up the banners. The rest of the morning was taken up with the troweling of one of the features on site so that it could be photographed, as well as extending the area around the pipes that were found in trench VII. The afternoon for group A was spent doing some planning in trench VI, which took up the whole time and is still not finished. The planning was temporarily interrupted this afternoon as the gazebo decided to make a move on the trench. Thanks to the wind, the gazebo did not survive its jaunt to trench VI and is, sadly, no more.

Michael D writes after a hard day's mattocking -

Whilst Danny and Ross were hard at work at their own jobs this morning, I was mattocking away in the trench, hoping to level out the surface so it could then be trowelled to reveal the contents in the soil below. Around mid-morning, the three of us were shown how to use a rather complex (and expensive) looking camera, as photos of the section and surrounding area were needed.
After lunch it was then back to mattocking and working through our context sheets together. The latter was unfortunately interrupted when the gazebo blew over! But ten minutes later and after some admirable team work, the gazebo was dismantled and back in the box, so we all could go back to our jobs. A good day's work today I think.

Dig Director Simon gives us an update:

We have been making good progress on the dig in spite of the weather being a bit cold and damp. I keep having to remind myself that its supposed to be the middle of May. Although I am supposed to be directing this excavation, I have had to absent myself for some of the time over the last two days to attend 'important' meetings and its encouraging to come back and see the new exciting features being revealed - like a rusty old iron water pipe! However, over much of the site there is an interesting sequence of stratigraphy and features being revealed which leads to interesting discussions (in spite of what Dean said the other day!). In past years we have been rather inundated by the public, not to mention footballers using our fence sections as their goal posts. Today, as we were packing up, Jane and I were looking out across the Park and it was quite deserted. Clearly archaeologists are the only ones mad enough to be out in this weather.

Meggen chips in

I don't normally get to spend all day on site (too much work to do in the office!). I'm impressed with the way things are shaping up. Urban sites are always quite tough - lots of layers that are hard to pick apart. Even after years of digging experience, it can still be tough to be sure you found the 'edge' of an old cut of a trench or pit. As Jonathan reported - our gazebo did bite the dust. The pain of this was somewhat eased by the chocolate donuts Aaron brought in today. If I can eat donuts, I might make it to site more often!

Tuesday the 11th of May...

Jenny writes:

The day started off slowly in terms of finds in Trench VII; only a few small sherds of pottery, glass and the odd clay pipe piece were found, and the weather wasn't looking too good either. But, by the afternoon our luck had changed - the weather brightened up and in Trench VI we found a lot of pottery ranging from the 17th-19th centuries, including some pretty blue and white transfer/tin-glazed ware, as well as lots of clay pipe, glass and green bottle pieces. Although we are working hard, we are enjoying it and the public interest we have had so far has been very encouraging.

Dean's story of...Banter and Bribery

When members of the public look in from the barriers to our busy trenches, many crane their necks in an attempt to listen to our technical talk and interpretations of the complex archaeology that has been unearthed. In reality however, the stretches of laborious soil shifting are enlightened mostly by trench-banter. This usually consists of us interpreting twigs as pieces of Chester's lost Holy Rood, or discussing battle tactics for nerdy computer games. Today however, our team discovered that one of our members (Gary) has started Salsa lessons, which gave us plenty to laugh at for the afternoon.

On a serious note, our banter is a sign of good morale. Combined with bribes in the form of cakes and sweets from Meggen and Simon, it makes what is often a physically and mentally tiring job that little bit easier.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Ye olde Optrex and a once intact bottle

Maria reports:
There was a bit of a chilly start today and in the morning my group were lucky enough to be in Albion Street where it was lovely and warm! We each washed a selection of the artefacts that we have found during the recent excavation. It was really enjoyable to see how an artefact covered in mud could actually be a beautiful piece of pottery or glass. There was an interesting fragment of dark blue glass which appeared to have the 'ye olde Optrex' stamp on it.
In the afternoon we attempted to plan a section of trench VI and then went on to use the level to record heights on the specific section of the trench. All in all a good day!

Sam Reports:
The most easy going day for group C thus far. This morning we were introduced to plan drawing. We drew a feature half-sectioned (when you dig out half the feature) by Hayley in the NE part of trench VI. It was very straight forward, but, most importantly, NOT MANUAL LABOUR!
In the afternoon the group had its finds cleaning session showing the yays and nays of washing objects. You could eat your dinner off those broken shards of plate. But the most important lesson today was when Mike C demonstrated excavation is destruction by putting a mattock through an intact glass bottle.

and finally...
Dear World,
Today team A was digging treanch VII and we finally managed to find the features we were looking for.
After a morning of photography, Karen, Rachel and Jonathan managed to define the test pit that we have been looking for for the last 3 days of excavation and I finally found the pipe that's running through our trench. On top of this we also found clay pipe, pottery and glass as well as a tooth - probably from a cow.
Other finds of note were a whole glass bottle - up until Mike C put a mattock through it and some pistol shot found by our site metel detectorist.

Friday, 7 May 2010

A witch on a swing...

Hayley reports:

Very cold start today - luckily no rain, though, and the sun made a very welcome apperance this afternoon. The North side of Trench VI was trowelled today with numerous finds being uncovered including: Medieval pottery, Post-Medieval glass, porcelain, clay pipes, a handle possibly belonging to a small slipware jug and the highlight of the day, a completely intact green glass bottle which amazingly was uncovered whilst using a mattock.
Inscribed on the bottle was "Edmundson's & Co. Birkenhead" and an image of what has been suggested as "a witch on a swing". Fingers crossed for more exciting finds next week!

Karen reports from Trench VII -
Today has been less of a paddle in the mud and more of a trample in the trench! Our group continued to trowel back a very wet trench with varied success. We continued to find lots of small finds like clay pipe stems, glass and sherds of pottery, mainly dating from the post-medieval period. However Rachel and Aaron found the two star finds! Rachel unearthed a rim of Roman pottery known as 'Black Burnished Ware,' which dates back to, roughly, the second century AD! After lunch we returned to the trench and Aaron found teeth! Oh yes! The sticky, gelatinous candy type covered in mud .... we dated this wonderful find as definitely 21st century.
In the afternoon we had the opportunity of planning (drawing) part of Trench VI. This involved drawing onto graph paper a bird's eye view of the things that can be seen - like stones and other features that may be important, too. This was a welcome task for my ancient knees! It was a good day.

Nick writes -
It was a bit of a chilly start today, so I threw on a few more layers and headed to the dig. Today the group and I were learning to plan and level. We were showed how to plan using a 1m by 1m planning frame and we drew up the T-shaped feature. The plan came out well and we were all very pleased with it.
In the afternoon we had a leveling lesson in which we learnt how to use and set up the equipment, and after being shown how to take levels we measured a few heights from around he park. When we were all confident with our leveling skills we set up a temporary bench mark on the site which can be used in the future to measure heights in the two trenches. There were also a couple of birthdays on site today - happy birthday Ross and Hayley!

Thursday, 6 May 2010

A T-shaped puzzle

Gary and Mike C report:

Today we found an interesting T-shaped feature in Trench VI, which was producing mainly post-medieval pottery in the top layers of fill. Not completely excavated, yet, so hopefully we will understand better what it may be tomorrow.
Rained all day mostly, but the day was brightened by what may be our Group's first Roman find of this dig - a small sherd of very abraded orange ware. Hopefully there will be more to come!

Gemma writes:
Today has been quite good over all - apart from the weather as it has been very wet and a bit cold. My group worked on Trench VII today. It needed mattocking, which was rather strenuous; however, the technique was easy to pick up. We mattocked to break up the ground's surface since we needed to dig deeper.
In the afternoon, the weather was a bit better and our group was getting used to levelling again with the staff and dumpy level. With these refreshed levelling skills, we will be able to record levels of the site later on. Later on in the afternoon we had to trowel part of the main trench (VI). A number of finds were found such as parts of clay pipes and sherds of medieval pottery. One of my friends would like me to mention that at one point a pigeon flew into the perimeter fence, which shocked us all and had us laughing. Us archaeologists have a strange sense of humour :). My last thoughts are that I hope the weather is better tomorrow.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Good weather for ducks!

Rachel writes:

Today started off okay - my group began by trowelling the trench that was dug on Tuesday and just generally making it neater, and picking up any finds that were there along the way. After a break we started on the context sheets, and then the rain began. By lunch both the sheets and us were a bit soggy!
After lunch my group had a go at taking levels, which involved measuring the ground at different points. This was fun, even if we did have trouble trying to get it to focus and reading the numbers at first. People passing by seemed to be interested in what we were doing and many stopped to ask questions.
At one point two ducks also wandered onto the site. All in all it was an enjoyable, if rather rainy day on the site.

Jonathan writes:

The day started off troweling through the back fill. This continued throughout the day and was interspersed with other tasks such as levelling in the afternoon. The weather was a bit temperamental, raining at the most unfortunate times (such as trying to fill in context sheets).
Today's finds were a bit sparse, but there were some intriguing things including a whole glass bottle and a metal ring. Another find was a bit mysterious; interpretations of it changed - first it was thought to be bone, but then when I asked someone else they said it was a boar tusk. Whatever it is, it certainly won 'best find of the day.'

Michael D writes:

So we had our second day on site today, and in my group we did a variety of different things. We gradually reduced the height of the baulk inbetween two neighbouring sondages so we could carefully look for any finds. Once the layer was levelled out we then got to practice trowelling, a technique used in archaeology where you carefully scrape off all the topsoil to display the earth below, and hopefully expose any changes in the colour of the soil or materials within. We also worked through our context sheets, an important part of any archaeological dig. All in all, an interesting day with quite a few finds; perhaps the most interesting for my group was a glass bottle, still intact, from the 19th Century. The weather could have been better, but then again, it could have been much worse. I guess we should be thankful for that!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Dig Director Simon starts our story

Well we got the dig started today, a bit slowly at first whilst the digger (diesel-powered, yellow mechanical one that is) opened up the trench from last year (trench VI) digging 'gently' down through the backfill to the undisturbed archaeological layers beneath. We also opened up a new trench, number VII, which should get us close to the bit of old Cholmondeley's Mansion which we found in 2007. All the students turned up bright and enthusiastic and the weather was pretty good, too. Let's hope both of those last!

They had a good go at cleaning up and trowelling and we started to turn up a good variety of finds already - some probably lost on picnics in the park.