of the 2006 Excavation

by Jeremy Cooper

The views expressed are Jeremy's own and the information is his own understanding - he has been known to get things wrong!

Days 1 and 2 of 20: Monday 26th,Tuesday 27th, June

OK, so the big news is - no weeding!! Steve (our archaeological supervisor) doesn't necessarily want to clear the whole site this year, so it's straight into proper digging. That's not to say that there won't be some weeding later: apart from any other needs, we've been offered the production of a virtual reality walk around the bathhouse ...

... so later on that will need to be cleaned up a bit for photography.

There are two focal points for the excavation this year (click here for a labelled overview of the site in a new browser window):

1. The "new bath house" area at the bottom of the slope:

the aim is to recover as much detail as possible of the room layout, the floors and dating, and to find out how far the archaeology extends down the hill towards the canal: the spoil heap, which was in the way, has been moved and the digging for the moment is on a long front progressing backwards, down the hill.

Just in case it had forgotten what it is

Four tesserae - not conjoined, just intimate

2. The courtyard area: at last it's time to dig down and find out what lies beneath the courtyard area. Will we find firm evidence of the "missing" East Wing? For the moment, one of the drainage ditches (the higher one) is being widened, and a narrow strip is being excavated running at right angles to the drainage ditches.

Day 4 of 20: Thursday 29th, June

Bruce and Tammy with Nick Adams and Steve Young

First visitors of 2006: Tammy Day and Dr Bruce Winney of the People of the British Isles project visited to view the site and talk to us all about their project, which is to create a genetic map of Britain. They'll be back in the area in September for a public meeting at Weedon. If you, your parents and grandparents were all born in the same rural area, they'd like to hear from you. Check out the project website: http://www.peopleofthebritishisles.org

Iron Age pottery: these fragments of the same pot were found in the fill of a ditch cutting diagonally across the line of the upper Romano-British drain in the courtyard (the one marked in a photo above): they show that the ditch fill is pre-Roman.

And finally... I've just have to show you the medieval pavilion I've been allocated this year as my Media Centre.

Great isn't it - so romantic! All I need now is a penant flying from the peak, a charger grazing outside and a suit of armour ready for me to sally forth... etc... etc. May be they think I work for the Daily Express. It's proximity to the dung heap is of course quite coincidental.

Day 5 of 20: Friday30th, June

Friday already - one week over!

Steve conducted the traditional end of week site tour and he and Martin gave their account(s) of what's going on.

The courtyard has proved to be a thin layer of archaeology, but the pre-Roman ditch and the oh-so-solitary posthole are interesting.

The new bath house may just be a winter dining room - posh underfloor heating to take the edge off the frozen peas. Its likely that we've found the furnace for the hypocaust and the flue leading from it into the rooms.

But which way round did the rooms lie - along the hillside, or (like the old bathhouse) up and down it?

Steve is happy that the weeks exploration has yielded good results. Next week there will be further exploration to help decide where to take out the current surfaces to see what lies lower down in weeks 3 and 4. There may be as much as 18" (45 cms) of demolition rubble (most of what we can see now) to take out before we get to floor level.

Before I go - a new media service has been introduced this year. Supervisors can request working photos of their areas which can be printed and returned to them in minutes - they can then mark them up to help them keep track of developments.

This doesn't replace the formal recording process, of course, but it helps keep track of rapidly developing and complex areas.

Have a good weekend!

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