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, 30 May 2015

Day 14: Treasure at last!

A very successful morning.  Whilst taking away the clay mound in the far northwest corner of the site, trying to determine whether we had another stone foundationMeg began troweling what looked to be an emerald coloured stone. When we further analysed the object however, it became clear that it was much more precious and significant. A truly amazing discovery which captured the attention of all our group, as well as Julie and Dan. We thought we found an intact medieval coin engravined with a short cross

Medieval Jetton in situ

After further research by Julie and Dan it turns out that this small treasure is a Jetton counter. Not relating to currency or used for trading, but used during the medieval period as a calculation counter, similar to an abacus but used on a chequered board/table. This particular Jetton piece is most likely to be French, indicated by its detailed design and was probably manufactured sometime in the 14th century. Jetton counters were popularly made in areas like Paris and were imported by countries such as England, Spain and others.  Trading however, slowly came to an end as independent production systems were established from the 16th century onward and the need for French Jettons ceased.


Friday, 29 May 2015

Some photos from week 3

The Three B’s of Thursday- BaneCat, (Ron) Burgundy and Bees

Thursday has been a day, to use a sporting punditry term, of two halves for team A. This morning we found ourselves with in the warm sanctuary of the finds room away from the sudden down pours. Our aim was to start separating out our clean finds, so that we had pottery, building material, bone, etc. in separate groups. We then had to describe what a select number of objects were like in those groups, e.g, colour, texture, condition, etc. To do this we were ably supervised by Jill, who we no doubt preceded to irritate with our level of questioning, which was somewhat a kin to an annoying five year old. After that task was finished we cracked out the tooth brushes and lukewarm water and set too cleaning yet more finds! 

However soon lunchtime arrived, and we were told to down tools. Our lunch break was spent enjoying the hilarity of BaneCat, a must watch for anyone with a love for batman, cats or with a sense of humour! 

After Lunch we returned to site, where Dan and I, faced what was becoming somewhat of a demon to us, the task of cleaning the surface of the Roman road. However, with true British determination we gritted our teeth, brandished our trowels and stepped once more in to the breach (trench). Work on site this afternoon was hampered somewhat by the ever present swarm of bees, who seemed to be drawn mainly to team B (thankfully). Once Supervisor Dan had deemed that we had reached an adequate level of cleanliness on the road, he asked us to repeat the process on the wall of our trench so that tomorrow we could complete a section drawing. 

Hopefully tomorrow I’ll be reunited with my love, Mavis the Mattock, which alas is a story for another day.

Nathan and his beloved Mavis

Farewell my Archaeologically interested Friends!

Day 13: Is it greyish-brown? Nah its browny-grey mate…

I’m not really sure what to say to be honest… gone are the days that an excited Daniel looked forward to getting out of bed to rush to this once captivating experience of archaeology even if it is a fabricated version of a much coarser, unforgiving version of commercial archaeology. The shelter from realism is a dangerous filter, one that I am sure will become apparent later in life

Today I found myself debating with Sid the sloth whether a piece of Roman, that turned out to be medieval, pottery was the 35th or 36th shade of grey. The answer of which still evades me. Those initial gleeful days spent excavating every fragmented piece of indiscernible bone soon came back to bite as my attempts to clean with my trusty Colgate tooth brush, there are other brands of tooth brushes available, was inevitably futile. The only worthwhile thing to look forward to, to bring the day back from the ashes was a pasty from Pasty & Co, there are other pasty retailers available. It burnt my tongue. My original fears of trekking through trench filled mud was irrational given the elements faced in week two. I had never had rain hurt my face before but digging and mattocking in the rain was joyful and entertainingaccompanied by a family friendly game of who am I. The inescapability of time has however turned this game into a frustrating task which had strained my already non-functioning brain and patience. Kim Jong Cameron and Sid have now abandoned us into the loving embrace of Group D, though what hurts the most is that they won custody over Mavis. This has meant that Nathan, that was spared my company during week 1, has been burdened with my presence with our attempts to clean the already disturbed Roman road. A stone baked surface of soil has made troweling an endless pit of disappear and has caused much of my disillusion with archaeology. Is that stone dislodged? Well it is now… I fear Nathans patience has also grown strained so if I appear to lose contact with the world please check the spoil heap. 

Despite my pessimistic blog post and pessimistic inner monologue while writing this blog post… I still have enjoyed my experience on site with trowelling part and parcel of excavation, though the overarching possibility of being reunited with Mavis gives me hope and drives me on. With only a week left there seems very little to be done though I am sure more finds still await. I’m still not an archaeologist.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Excavation Open Day - we look forward to seeing you there

Day 12: Rachael's story continues...

Hello lovely internet humans! And obviously the secret aliens.

Today was a fine morning for another finds session, but this time there was no 'weshin'.  No no, it begin with detective work... well somewhat detective work. We needed to begin categorizing the finds, which meant splitting the types of finds into different groups and beginning to describe the assemblages we had. Using magnifying glasses we could look up and close at our little ceramic sherds and see if they clay had inclusions or we could look at bone with the magnifying glass too to observe any decoration or cut marks. I have included plenty of photographs of the finds sessions for you, our ADORING internet public! You will also be able to see the writing on the sherd, we did this last week (believe or not the ink and those 'told fountain pens). We marked anything that can absorb the ink and artefacts which will not be damaged by the writing process.

Aaaaaaaaaah the afternoon time for tea and scones! Well not quite, its time to DIG!

Its raining its pouring the old dog is snoring....well it was not really pouring but it did rain a little in the afternoon, and Rebekah did bring A DOG but the dog is only puppy so only a few lies. 
I continued digging around a pretty stony patch of clay-eeee mud mixed with pretty baked on mud. Hard, (my poor hands) but its worth to take this off to start to reveal what on earth this patch on mud is. There are a few suspicions and whispers around the site directors, but hopefully I will be part of helping to unveil the mysterious stones. But whilst I did this others on site were doing various other tasks, which I photographed (with my magic 'box' e.g. bad camera on my phone).

Here we have Dan and Nathan cleaning up an area to show it off! You can see the progress they made in these two shots.

Here we have the expanded trenches and ditches coming along great!

Here is the rest of my group, digging harshly through a clay deposit and arguing over whether it is DUCKtape or DUCtape, I mean what else do they do the pass the time? Oh yes the four hour alphabet game! Archaeology student eh?

Anyway enjoy the rest of the blog posts, as this is our third week already! Let alone the pots I need a wesh today, think I got more hair in my mud with the tools then in the bucket.


From, Rachael 
(the Pikachu of archaeology- he lost an ear today, cry for him)

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Day 11 of ‘The Big Dig’ ...

Day 11 of ‘The Big Dig’ and group D have spent the day rehearsing their Cinderella skills and bailing out their trench … Although, we are most definitely not sinking. 
The first part of the day was spent finds processing, which consisted of myself and my team marking the pottery objects that we had previously washed last week with the sites code, trench and context number. It was amazing to see the objects clean and dry and the sense of achievement was overwhelming. After all, some of the objects present may have been used some 2,000 years ago. A different time, a different civilisation, a different set of social values. It’s in my blood; I just want to know all that I can about the people who used these objects, if only there was such a thing as a time machine. Mind, in hindsight, would there be any need for us archaeological folk if there was?! This is one of the main reasons I came to Chester to study archaeology, that connection with people of the past through the objects recoveredtheir objects, it is just so fascinating. 

The afternoon was spent bailing out the bottom of our trench which had filled with water over the weekend, not an easy task when the soil is so clayey. Myself and Kate then proceeded to start drawing our first section drawing with the aid of the wonderful Dan (the man). Now, doing a section drawing sounds easy, but when numbers start to come into it my brain just shuts down. The amount of times that I have had to count the little squares is unbelievable, poor Kate! 

I must say I love my trench. Mattocking through the top of the solid Medieval topsoil to remove the fill from the ditch that we had discovered was no easy feat. I have been battered, bruised, bled, been rained on almost daily, and I’ve loved it all. It took a lot of hard work, but the bottom of the Medieval ditch, distinguished from a dark brown silt clay fill to an orangey-brown clay, was revealed last week, and I was so overjoyed. 

Although, overall low in finds compared to other teams, we have so far unearthed cattle teeth and bone including a mandible with teeth still intact, medieval pottery and ceramic materials including Ewloe ware and a floor tile with decoration and slip glaze, Roman pottery including black-burnished ware and Samian ware, Oyster shell and metal including slag and nails. 

Who knew that soil could make you so happy!


Day 11: Finds and fancy pens

Day 11 on the dig and I think I'm finally starting to get the hang of these early mornings. After walking to the site and staring at the clouds above I was convinced today was going to be a cold dark day with the odd rain shower. However much to my excitement my team, group D got told that we were washing and marking finds until lunch. This may not sound overly exciting but the fact I was going to be out in the cold for the morning brightened my mood greatly. 
The four of us sat around a bunch of tables and discussed the finds we had in front of us, which we had worked on in previous sessions. The theme of this session was marking the finds. 
We discussed which finds and materials could be marked and what finds and materials couldn’t. After we had filled in our worksheets required for the third elelment of our portfolio we then were told to begin marking the finds. Expecting to be given some fancy pen to write on the finds with, I was then given a pot of ink and a basic quill to write on the finds with. I sat and stared at the pot of ink and then at this tiny piece of pottery in my hand and began to wonder how on earth I was going to write in the ink on this tiny piece. After many failed attempts I finally finished marking my tray of finds and could get on with washing a new context worth of finds.

After lunch me and Harry returned to a new trench that we have been working on since last Friday and began the search again for the layer of orangy clay, to show we have found the edge of the pit we were looking for. Digging for 30min seemed to be getting us no where until suddenly we both began to see the orange appear from under the soil. I have never been to happy to see a change in the colour of dirt before in my whole life! We then cleaned and cleaned the trench untl it was time to pack up and head home. All in all another great day on site.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Day 11: Eyuuuuuup! 'thother blog by Tha Yorkshire lass

Today started slow, after a three day weekend and an essay, aye it began a bit slow BUT we got back into the swing of it by first break. Although somebody did fall asleep *COUGH* Kate *COUGH* ('told lass dint get much kip')
The weather today was 'orate', a little sunny in places sometimes cloudy and a bit chilly through the day.  Today my task was to finish removing and level a specific area on site, to see what on earth these suspicious rocks are, and once I get it all removed we might be able to see! So keep Tha eye on the blog folks and keep reading. I did not get a lot of finds, a few small bones and bits of reddish ceramics but its nice to be out and excavating anyway.
While I kept busy, Kate, Megan and Ellen started removing a clay deposit that had previously taken two days to make a site drawing and taken levels off. So I think they thoroughly enjoyed removing it after waiting so long. After not long I heard excitement as they unveiled a rib, a shoulder bone and a floor tile. Not to mention an infused neck bone! You know what that means? That means that specific one is from a 'bearn' (a younger animal).  Great find, but they are gunna' need a wesh! Not the folks like, the bones, then again we are pretty mud stained ourselves. Not today mind, that will be for another day.
 Don't forget to come see us in the park, the weather has not been bad and we are always happy to tall to our 'adoring public'.