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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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Day 9 on the training dig and Megan comes face to face with a lion!

The rain this morning made working in the uneven, old trench difficult, so half of Team C moved over in to this year's new trench where they had reached a 17th century context. Our day was centred around starting to work through the demolition layer, removing lots of bricks, slate tiling and mortar. In the section of the trench we were working in was a series of sandstone blocks which appear to be aligned into some kind of linear feature, so we left these in place for now. In terms of artefacts, our finds tray was almost overflowing by five o'clock, with a real mix of items including a small copper alloy token, some medieval window glass, multiple animal bones, and these fragments of 17th Century bellarmine vessel.
A bulging find's tray for Megan's team

Sherds from a 17th century Bellarmine vessel, a type of decorated stoneware

Four stones in a line = a wall?
 The most aesthetic object I found today has to be this glass object decorated with lion's faces. According to our finds expert, it would have been part of the stem from a fancy, relatively high status wine glass from the 17th century. Its hollow because it would have been produced by blowing the molten glass into a mould.

Lion faces decorate the stem of this wine glass. Cheers!


Day 2 of the third week and the rain almost beat us. Groups D and F went off with Julie for a small finds session and spent the morning carefully marking and sorting their finds, including marking on bone, metal and glass. This took a great deal of concentration and dexterity and proved very inkteresting! (pun intended). The other groups were hard at work despite the weather with Jamie finding a fantastic iron key. Other finds today include an intricate glass object along with many Medieval and Civil war finds. Tomorrow brings the start of a new stratigraphic layer!
Jamie finds the key to...?

Monday, 15 May 2017

Day 8 metalling and metal detectors…Jack and Pauline report on the start of a new week and uncovering a new section of Roman road...

It's the start of a new week and after a successful week last week our team was ready to continue with the further excavation of trench 7. This meant the continued excavation and clean-up of the newly revealed Roman road found only on Friday by our team! It was really exciting to be able to uncover a feature that hadn’t been seen since the time it was last used during the Roman occupation of Britain. The road has also already produced some amazing finds including decorated pieces of Samian ware and a copper-alloy coin! The coin will hopefully be in good enough condition to be able to roughly date the road by the figure on the coin. Hopefully with further excavation more of the road and its size will be found and allow interpretation of its usage. Let's just hope the rain doesn't hinder us in finding any more exciting finds!

Today Colin the metal-detectorist came to work with us. He is a good metal-detectorist who works with the archaeologists and understands their processes, is aware of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, and would never detect on land without permission. The public that came to see us today were watching him working, and, as it should be, we highlighted to them what makes a good detectorist, versus a 'nighthawk' (or 'thief' as someone succinctly renamed them). We also try to explain how we work responsibly, that no find is ignored, all of the site is planned and photographed, and how we are careful to restore the site after we've finished.
Colin helps identify any metal artefacts ready for excavation or track down any that may have been missed in our spoil
On a lighter note Colin found lots more lead shot for us, a lovely Medieval buckle, and a small section of lead window with the glass adjacent, amongst other objects. Thank you Colin!
Lead from a leadlight window?
Day 7 of our training dig and the end of the first full week…Victoria and Neil describe their day…

Victoria B…
The end of the first week has rolled around quickly. Team A entered the trench this morning with a positive attitude ready to excavate the possible pit that was exposed yesterday. The going was tough but after getting through an inch or so of baked soil, it became much easier to remove. Throughout the day more of the pit was exposed and the later culvert and land drain removed. This pit has so far revealed several pieces of black burnished ware including a handle. Friday has been an eventful day and fun even with the turn of the weather.
Team A looking inquisitivly at the pit at the start of the day!

Our day in Grosvenor Park started under grey skies and a light drizzle was falling as we entered the Chester University Experiential Learning Archaeological site. The site has  produced finds relating to Cromwell and the English Civil War, from medieval Chester and back as far as the Roman period, all in just over a week!
The archaeological level we’re currently working on is producing some interesting finds, such as a bone-handled knife and a metal spike. Before we can excavate this layer, the trench had to be cleaned back (a process of removing debris from the current surface), planned (a hand drawn plan of the level, including any interesting finds, the surface content, bricks, slates, bone and features, such as the Victorian drainage ditches) and photographed, concentrating on specific areas of interest, such as the bone-handled knife. These tasks were completed by our group in plenty of time for the specific finds to be lifted from the surface, recorded and taken safely for processing and analysis. 
Ben, Amy and Matt planning the trench...
The bone-handled knife carefully excavated and ready for lifting.

This brought us to the end of our first full week - a week of finds, sun and a couple of beers, as the group we have known for 18 months got to know each other better. Here's to week 3...
To end the week, Dan (site director) gave a round-up of the week's findings and thanked all the students for their hard work this week - a well-deserved rest for all this weekend [Ed.].