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.

CAER Banner

CAER Banner

Follow by Email

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Mr Blobby and bikinis?

Rafi updates us on the those random dig conversations:

Day 4 started with rain and wind but the weather gave us a break for the whole afternoon! Our team (team A) learned very interesting tips about technical photography of archaeological features and had a refresh about the use of the dumpy level to take measurements on site - great job Chris, really sorry we doubted you on the first measurement!!!

After this two sessions the team split in two groups of three people and joined the others in scraping the remaining mud and dust from the archaeological surface. It has been really difficult as there were many puddles, and we had to use sponges. However, as Fran and I noticed, squatting all day will definitely give us perfect bikini bodies! 

In the morning, Amy came on site with a cute dog that stayed with us during the break, enjoying great donuts kindly offered! During the afternoon we all enjoyed working in an almost sunny weather, talking to each other about Mr Blobby (thanks for letting me know this scary thing!) and cleaning pretty much all the exposed surface.

Best find of the day goes to Chris, who found a massive piece of bone!

 Rafi and team A learning about site photography in the morning drizzle

The home stretch?

James reflects on Day 4 and looks forward to next week:

Day 4 started as the last one left off, with more rain. As the majority of the backfill has now been taken out we were on the home stretch, it was just a case of taking off the last couple of sheets which turned out to be a bit of trouble due to the slippery conditions and the size of it. As usual Dan was there in the background having a good moan and there were slightly fewer finds today though there did seem to be more bone found then previously. The majority of team B’s day was taken up with a mix of public archaeology and also photography, which gave us a nice long break from digging  I didn’t realise the amount of careful consideration that goes into every photograph that is taken and also the impact that we as archaeologist can have. Greatly looking forward to next week when we begin to get down to properly uncovering the archaeology and investigating different aspects of the site.

Liam, James, Liz and Dani clearing the site of the remaining backfill


Maeve sums up  Day 4 and the end of the first week:

As the first week of digging comes to a close the site is almost ready for excavation. In the morning my team (Team C) continued to remove the soil that was still covering the remaining terram.  The wet weather definitely made this easier and most of the soil could be removed with the use of hand shovels and trowels. This was much appreciated by everybody as many of us were still sore from the digging at the beginning of the week. The buckets of soil were much heavier today due to the wet weather and the path leading up the soil heap was VERY muddy and slippery resulting in me nearly falling over quite a few times .. It was a very messy morning and we were troweling mud off each other by the end of the morning.  A small number of finds were found today, including pottery, glass and of course clay pipe fragments. However, I think we unearthed more worms than artefacts overall.

During the break Amy brought in donuts which was awesome! After the break Team C and Team D had a short introduction on public archaeology. After this we went on a walk around the Chester walls and visited another excavation site on George Street where a commercial archaeology team (Earthworks Archaeology) was excavating. This was interesting as we got to hear what archaeology was actually like as a job and see what they had found on their site. This gave us an idea of what would be expected of us when the public visited our site. Overall we had a pretty enjoyable day and our team look forward to starting to excavate next week :D

 Maeve and her team getting muddy!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Chris reflects on a day of mud, puddles and shovels

Day 3 at the site and the weather had taken a turn for the worse with ominous grey clouds threatening us from the start of the day. Once again no respite was in sight (excuse the rhyme) for group A who grabbed their weapon of choice – mine being the mattock – and once again into the breach, starting work on a new trench having completed their original task the day before. This new trench, it would soon become clear, was a different animal with a seemingly undiscovered base. However, after a whole mornings work and various layers of clothing being shed and reapplied we finally reach the bottom and managed to join up with the rest of the trench finishing the largest trench on the site just as the rain began to fall. Once again we came across some small finds - pieces of pottery and of course the now obligatory pieces of clay pipe!! However the dwindling number of finds did not dishearten the groups and it was strange seeing so many people proud of a hole!!

With the afternoon came heavier rain and the eventual ‘abandon ship’ order back to the mess shed where we were shown how to fill in a context sheet along with just how much information is needed to accurately record a site. It was during this ‘class’ that we received the bad news that our dear friend the Gazebo has passed away, the rain wind and battering of two years of excavation have become too much, gone but never forgotten.  After our context sheet lesson we ventured out into the ever worsening rain and wind back to the site to try and remove some of the exposed Terram, a job that proved harder than the previous day as the site was now a slippery mud bath and although we did get some of the Terram up we did eventually have to give in and leave for the day (much to my disappointment).  All in all today wasn’t too bad, we had mud, we had puddles and we had shovels, what more can an aspiring archaeologist need?

Chris taking a well-earned break from mattocking on Day 3.

Dani talks us through day 3

The site is starting to look more like an excavation site with a large area having had the terram lifted off yesterday with Frances, Christian and Rafie trowelling the surface to prepare it for excavation. My group consisting of Liam, Liz, James and I, started to clear a feature dug last year which was where a wall would have been along with its buttresses. The ditch was really deep and we swapped roles so that we were not in each other's way. James, Liam and I each used the mattock, spade and shovel to try and get up all of the soil and each of us alternated taking the wheelbarrow to the spoil heap. The ground had a lot of large stones making it difficult to shovel them into the wheel barrow as they were heavy and my body is still sore from the previous two days introduction into the work so I found it a hard day.

Liz went off to clear the remaining thin layer across the terram with her trowel so that it was possible to lift it off later in the day to reveal the archaeology underneath. We all worked well as a team and we had soon cleared the ditch and the surrounding area with a piece of terram that I had worked on after the ditch being emptied of soil. In the afternoon the rain had got worse which forced us all inside where Simon talked us through how to fill out a context sheet correctly. After continuous heavy rain the site was too wet to clear away the soil, thus meaning we had to end the day over an hour earlier than normal. Before we all left we went to the site and took off the majority of the remaining terram that was not still fixed in place by soil, so the site is starting to look more like an archaeological site. Tomorrow I think we will be trowelling back the layers in order for us to start excavation.

Dani removing the remainder of last years backfill from the terram membrane protecting the site

Liam finds day 3 rewarding

Apart from the rain and the cold, today was another interesting day at the dig. Our team was chosen to continue removing backfill from the section of the medieval masonry wall excavated last year. This allowed me to find some more archaeological artefacts including a variety of pottery sherds, clay pipe and a segment of a cup. The first week is not even over yet and I have found 153 pieces of pottery and pipe, way more than the three pieces of amphora I found at Rhynie last year. It's a shame the rain caused an early finish but at least we were able to get a refresher on filling in context sheets, vital to our investigation of the Grosvenor Park. I look forward to seeing what else is found and the other skills needed to become an effective archaeologist.

 Liam removing the last of the backfill ready to reveal the archaeological level beneath the protective matting (terram)

Lauren is hoping for a fine day tomorrow

It’s the 3rd day digging and we’re finally seeing a lot more definition in the archaeology and trenches under the matting (terram, or  the Iran as we've been calling it). The morning of removing soil was eventful with little friendly bickers breaking out over where we should whacking with the mattock next but we managed to clear the final huge bit of earth removal by lunch! The wet weather was welcome in the morning when the air was humid but moving toward the afternoon the drizzle became a downpour which dampened spirits a little and turned the trench into a mud bath!! After an introduction to context recording by Simon and attempting to remove the remaining matting (unsuccessfully in the mud) we packed up a little earlier for the day. Hopefully the wet weather will ease off tomorrow!

The backfill and protective matting start to come off and the archaeology is exposed

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The future looks bright (if you can take a good photograph)

Andrew reflects on small victories:
Today ended in near victory, the backfill my group (group D) was digging from the previous year has almost all been removed, through hard work, mattocking and many wheelbarrow trips. On the finds count there was not much of interest to note. Of course we found a great deal of clay pipe (including a bowl for once), but we also found more pottery and a surprising amount of glass.

Photography was our first break from manual labour and it was well received. I really had not considered the amount of careful planning and decision making that goes into framing and taking pictures of archaeological sites. Especially when considering perhaps in fifty years a future archaeologist looking through images of the site and wanting to know exactly where everything was taken.

All in all the future looks bright for Thursday and group D will almost certainly have finished a significant part of the remaining backfill and will be mattocking away quite happily so long as the weather holds up.

 Andrew and Helen removing backfill
Group D get to grips with archaeological photography

Hayley stays level on day 2

Today our group took a site photography workshop, this was quite interesting and I very much enjoyed taking pictures as opposed to actually digging! Although the thought of dropping a five hundred pound camera was a little daunting! We also managed to do a little 'levelling' using the infamous dumpy level, we were all familiar with dumpy levels having had used them in year one on a different project, although every bit of practice is invaluable with those wonky devils. We also used the ordnance survey bench mark to identify how far above sea level the site was and so we could accurately measure the depths of other features within the site. These two workshops were an excellent introduction to the more technical side of field archaeology and provided a foundation for further knowledge. 

Our team still continued to excavate down to the terram and made some headway into fully digging the drainage ditch out. Little wary of working on the drainage ditch when it's raining. Still though, I would not like to be digging the deep pits the boys ended up digging!

Simon getting group C started with levelling