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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Saturday, 28 May 2011

Tiles, the culvert and cookies

Mark updates us for Friday -
After the climax of yesterday's Elizibethan coin find (courtesy of Zoe) and my total jealousy of it, my finds today were a little lacking. These consisted of two body sherds of Black Brown ware and a slightly more interesting copper alloy artefact, which looked as if it had totaly mineralised into verdigris. The tubular object was approximately 35 mm wide and 40 mm long, possibly the broken part of a product of a tinman (solderer). This was too fragile to remove and remained at the lower margin of the rubble fill, between the hearth and culvert. It may even defy the most attentive attempt to lift it, and disintegrate by the look of it.
However, during the "finds 4" session (with Julie) a reappraisal of the medieval green glazed floor tile fragment I found in the first week showed that it may have more diagnostic significance than first thought. The pattern on the fragment depicts the lower legs and talons of what could be a Gryphon, Wyvern, Dragon or similar, and may be from the late 14th or 15th c. This tile could be from St John's Church or the Chapel of St Anne and maybe was re-used in a high status building prior to breakage / dumping into the rubble fill of the current trench. The tile does have an ecclesiastical style to it, and it has now been separated out for further examination.

And Tom lets us know about the progress in the trench -
Despite the early rain and the besieging army of squirrels, it has been another productive day at the dig. Work continued on the building area and culvert in the afternoon by team D (or the newly coined Joseph Tong experience) who uncovered something rather interesting. Gary believes that we have found the area of the culvert that would have resided in the structure of the house. It is reported that Adam has found ‘stuff, important stuff,’ but as of yet this source cannot be verified. In between the Joseph Tong experience and Gary’s manic trowelling, teams B and C continued to record and excavate the site taking us down to a level past the demolished layer of Cholmondeley’s manor.
Of course the highlight of the day was no simple find or feature, but cookies baked personally by our very own Meggen (Thank you kindly). Aside from that, the students are geared up for the open day on Tuesday, which will be filled with fun activities, a chance to see the site in all its glory and possibly a chance to meet yours truly. So my friends, eat, drink and be merry on Tuesday, for on Wednesday we work.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Elizabeth I and a floor surface

Katie H. tells us about today's action in the trench -
We had a bit of a hectic start this morning, as the heavens opened all last night and this morning so the site had to be assessed first by Gary and Julie. Once it was decided that we weren’t going to damage our treasure trove of a trench we were able to begin the day.
Group C had finds this morning and we had to identify our artefacts and divide them into different categories. This involved filling out context cards and bagging them into specific groups. We also had to fill out context object summary sheets which were hard to grasp at first; however, once we got into the flow of things we sorted ourselves out (and underestimated the amount of bags we needed). We again were provided with a cup of tea thanks to Ali, which sorted us all out on this cold wet day.
This afternoon we carried on excavating and continued on an area that had been started this morning. We cleared back the westerly side of the trench, and tried to get down to a level that had been excavated by our group on Tuesday. Whilst excavating, the phrase “we hit rock” was an understatement as our entire section was filled with building debris; however, we did discover some mysteries!!! Zoe found another Elizabeth I coin, which we didn’t hesitate to applaud her for (well done Zoe!). We also discovered a floor surface that we got very excited over, especially Gary, and clay bases that could have been for structural use. Upon excavating a parallel area, another opposing floor surface was unearthed, which relates directly to the hearth that was uncovered previously. To what relation this has with the hollow on the northerly part of the trench is yet to be uncovered! However, tomorrow we are hoping to solve this mystery and uncover certain hidden secrets as to what we are actually looking at.

And Lyndsay gives us another viewpoint -
Today started out rather wet and got wetter in a hurry. After deciding that it was safe to start work, groups A,B and D were sent out to the trench. For Group B it was a whole day of excavation. Well for me and Jenine it was, with two members off sick our six were down to four. Then others were recruited elsewhere on and off site.
We started our morning periodically taking the top layer off the area where there was thought to be a cut and then running to the gazebo as the rain battered down. Turns out there might not be a cut and ditch but something else, but what isn't quite clear yet. Tom serenaded Lewis with his song "Get Hoe" while we all enjoyed the slightly drier times of the morning. This will be being released as a Christmas single in the near future.
By lunch the weather was nice and sunny and the park was running over with GCSE students who had finished their year. Things got a bit chaotic, and the community police officers were called in to make them clean their rubbish :S.
In the afternoon groups C and B were called in to clear the debris layer from part of the trench. This was time consuming but well worth and the find of the day was found by Zoe with her Elizabeth I coin!! This was duly paraded around the trench before being safely put in a little box. When this layer was being taken away a hard layer of mortar was revealed, which got Gary very excited. Only time will tell what we'll find tomorrow!!!!

Another coin weight!

Julie, one of our finds experts, updates us on some new discoveries -
A couple of interesting finds came up this morning when we started to remove some of the remaining demolition layer that seems to be sitting on top of the demolished building. One is a fragment of decorated wall plaster similar to material found in 2007; this piece is perhaps from the edge of a rectangular panel, possibly late sixteenth or seventeenth century.

The other is a copper alloy coin weight. We don’t find these very often, but Colin our metal dectorist also found one in the backfill removed at the beginning of the excavation. These were for checking the weight of gold or silver coins and so are made to precise weights. The one from the backfill has a hand on it which suggests that it is from Antwerp. The other has marks on both sides, but I need to look at it more closely to make out what they are.

Students stood up to the rain well this morning. It was a good lesson for them in what they should and shouldn’t do in varying levels of rain. Bert the squirrel was not deterred by the wet weather, however, and kept up his ferreting around people’s bags despite being chased away several times.

Finds and a squirrel raid

Bev gives us the lowdown on Wednesday -
Hello Global Watchers,
Wednesday started with 'finds' for Group A, which consisted of bagging and tagging with a spot of artefact recognition with Alison. (On a more personal note, this meant comfy chairs, the toilet nearby, and soft loo roll!).
After lunch instead of excavation Group A carried on with some planning in a rapidly drying trench, which was much akin to drawing in a dust bowl. We soldiered on in the trench, however!
In other news:
Mark had an argument with the replacement Gazebo and came off second best! There was also a 'Squirrel watch' as 'Bert' had vandalised my bag in his search for food!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Katie S. updates us for the 25th of May -
The day started with only groups C and D in the trench, which was strange as it felt too few of us to be on site. Yesterday our group was excavating a section in an area that appeared to be a layer of building debris. We cleared the soil and broken bricks and eventually revealed a few bricks that appeared to be in situ and may be part of a structure. Before any further excavation could be done to see whether these bricks may continue under the rest of the building debris, the section needed to be recorded and this was mine and Andrew's task for the morning.
The section was quite complex so it took us until about 12 to complete it; it would have been nice if the sun was out whilst we were drawing but I’m just thankful it did not rain. As we only had half an hour until lunch, Andrew and I went off with Gary into town to pick up two gazebos to replace Gerry. This was definitely an interesting end to the morning. As it was my group’s study leave in the afternoon, we left at lunch; however, the work doesn’t stop off site as everyone has a portfolio due in a few weeks - so still plenty of work to be doing!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Environmental archaeology and torn trousers

Shameem updates us for Tuesday -
We started the day with the boys attempting to resurrect the gazebo after yesterday's mishap concerning poor Gerry (RIP). We then broke off into our separate groups where all four groups did some excavation under the glorious sunshine; a welcome change from yesterday's drizzle. We scraped off another layer of clay and brick and discovered a sandy layer, which is thought to be part of the brick flooring previously discovered. After our morning break, we all welcomed the fact that we had a talk by Ian Smith from Liverpool John Moores University about environmental archaeology. The privilege of sitting on a comfortable seat had definitely been taken for granted before this dig started!

After lunch we broke off into our groups once again, and my group got stuck in with our second photography session in which we photographed some sections. After this the digging recommenced, and we unearthed more of the sandy layer until the end of the working day.

When I awoke this morning I anticipated walking away with no cuts and bruises (for once), but of course this was ruined when I caught my trousers on a wheelbarrow...*riiiip* lovely.

May 23rd - Part Two!

Jenine gives us some updates on the finds -
Today the dig began with excavation and the major concern was to clear and tidy the excess soil so certain areas could be photographed effectively. One area that was successfully cleaned and photographed was the brick structure that was unearthed in the middle of the trench, which shows signs of burning concentrated in the centre of the bricks suggesting that this may have been a hearth at some stage.
Finds in the morning include that of a small sharp tooth (found by myself) and some other small fragments of bone. The drainage ditch reveals the brick beneath and part of the morning was spent removing soil to reveal the bricks that once may have formed a building in this area.
During lunch the heavens opened and the gazebo was much appreciated at this point. Later in the afternoon came separating the finds into different categories. The analysis of the finds was very important in being able to place them in the right area, particularly the pottery, which has shown the most variety and many different types of wares. The colour of the fabric can be very important when separating pottery; for example, a piece of Midland purple ware, because of its distinctive purple colour, it immediately reveals its place of manufacture.

Monday the 23rd - Half Way

Joe misses the Gazebo and draws a section -
So this is our halfway point, we’ve battled uphill risking scraped knuckles, battered shoulders and bent backs yet still we return for more. The workforce seems in no way subdued in spite of this being a Monday morning and the soil almost seems to shy away as we enter the compound style fencing. For me, I’ve not had a digging session for days and my trowel’s thirst to scrape and reveal archaeology is almost unbearable.
Alas, I must wait for the afternoon as in the morning I was section drawing. The section I was drawing was in the north-eastern corner and is where our site supervisor Gary located what appears to be a cut in the section. This led to the working out of how to draw this coherently on the drawing film. In our cleaning up of the section Flynn and I also located what could potentially be where a timber object once lay. The reasons for this is that the soil is so different from the rest of the section and devoid of the inclusions common to the other contexts (also Julie said so).
After a morning of putting pencil to film I was ready to dig…or clean as it turned out! Team D dutifully picked up mattocks and took to the concrete like surface with precision befitting a mechanic’s estimate and dancing around masonry like we were born for the West End. The features are popping out of the ground thick and fast now and the early site theories are still holding water. We continue to use the term “Barn” for our building, albeit tentatively, and hopefully the final weeks will continue to be as successful.
One final notable entry to the blog is an obituary to Gerry the Gazebo who succumbed to wind related injury as the sides of the Gazebo acted as a Buccaneer’s sails. May you rest in pieces Gerry.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The pigeons are on our side....

An anonymous report has just come in from something claiming to be an undercover pigeon reporter in the Park:

Students in the Park have been befuddled and bemused by the identity of a so-called 'Bert the Squirrel'. There is in fact a whole crime syndicate of squirrels in the Park masterminded by Big Bad Bert and his gangster moll Bertina Squirrel. Cheshire Constabulary (Squirrel Investigation Branch) are investigating the following crimes: obtaining nuts by false pretenses (notably by looking cute and cuddly), cheese sandwich laundering and the planting of clay pipe stems. Arrests of the culprits are expected imminently.

Even more paperwork!

Anna gives us an account of her activities on Friday -
Today group A spent the very warm morning filling out archaeological paperwork (yes, it’s not just digging). It was our second session on learning how to fill out context sheets. The relevant information needed for these context sheets includes: the colour and texture of the soil in the deposit, layer, cut or fill being discussed in the context sheet, and general information of what is happening in the given area, and also a sketch plan of the trench pointing to where the area is located. Hopefully these context sheets will help in the creation of a Harris Matrix at the end of the dig and provide us a paper record of what we've done once the site is backfilled.