WHITEHALL ROMAN VILLA AND LANDSCAPE PROJECT

AN OCCASIONAL PROGRESS REPORT
of the 2012 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! Guest bloggers are, of course, always right.

WEEK 2


During the weekend

I recieved the following email via Tony Kesten's solicitor:

"I appreciate that advancing age can play tricks with memory and I enjoy the occasional mention in despatches but if you check your records you will, at the very least, find a photo of me on my knees with a trowel during the Time Team visit. (From memory, that increasingly faulty asset, I recall being an ordinary digger for my first two or three years.) Coincidentally both photos catch me at a moment when I am looking upwards rather than actually head-down troweling but I promise I was actually troweling either side of the photos. ;-)"

I checked to see whether Leveson could fit us in next week, but I'm afraid he's already booked. Anyway, I did the required research and came up with ... (PAUSE, while I do the research) ...

... the only photo I could find (in my not inconsiderable collection) from 2005 which undoubtedly shows TK at work - note in evidence, the cap, the wellies, and the very tiny patch of bare leg between the shorts and the boots (ladies - control yourselves):


However, in 2006, TK seems to have adopted the role in which he is now so well-known:



My profoundest apologies to TK therefore, for misrepresenting the representation of himself digging at Whitehall.




Day 6 of 20: Monday 18 June

I was too busy singing today to get up to the site. Anyway I was assured that I wasn't needed. :-(

Anyway... some photos got taken on Barbara's camera:



The finds bags (secured from the breeze by non-artefactual stones) contain nails. My suggestion, on the phone, that they might be space-ship rivets, was not well-received; but I think those of you privy to arcane facts will recognise the shape they encompass! Competing archaeological interpretations are awaited. No fewer than 29 nails were found in situ plus a few more from the spoil heap - and that was just before lunch.

Now here's Sandra working on that feature across the middle of the trial trench. All we can say for sure right now is that it had a roman coin in it - Dave Derby detected it.

And...

... yes, Ruth is back with us (hooray!), but it hasn't meant a break from writing for her yet; she spent the whole day (pretty well) surveying in the nails and jotting the numbers in the register. By the way - and this is NOT a new competition Tony - Ruth may well be the digger who has come furthest - she is based in the West Country. Needless to say , she doesn't travel every day.

Here are a couple of shots Steve took from the Matbro of the newly dug eastern marches of the site (Dave went up too). The first is of the northernish end (note the three test pits from some years ago):

You can see how the next one fits onto the last one- it's further south:

Here is a group of diggers arguing over who gets to pick up the surveying rod while Rick enjoys a quiet sit down in a wheelbarrow - he likes his wheel(s):



(Rick commented this evening: "I would just like to point out at this juncture that because of the lack of reliability of my "reliable" vehicle, I was actually trying out a getting a feel for a replacement vehicle. Not just sitting in a wheelbarrow but "getting a feel" for something with less complex electronics. The barrow was a actually a field test.")

Finally, here is Ruth coyly discussing the Greek situation with Nick, while Steve is waving desperately to be lower groundwards before Dave jumps out in pursuit of an errant context.

I'm afraid I'll be absent again tomorrow - but from then on I've run out of excuses.



Day 7 of 20: Tuesday 19 June

 


Day 8 of 20: Wednesday 20 June

No more blogging from me, except for the Friday afternoon site tours. But I'll be happy to publish any photos or words people want to send me. I'll put other people's word in italics and keep any comments I make in... um... un-italics.

And I'll come up to do site photography whenever needed.

This from Malcolm:

Rick was in the test pit cleaning up and planning the new bit of wall and I took a photo of that, the wall, not Rick.

I spent the day, with Ruth, Margaret and Jo scraping the surface from which all the nails are coming, and two fell to my trowel.

At tea break this afternoon the total nail count was 116 but after tea some more were found, including my 6" one...

bringing the total to over 120. I think they were making them there! What we've got is a nail forge.

Thanks Malcolm.

 


Day 9 of 20: Thursday 21 June

From Fred:

I hate to differ from my old friend Malcolm and his reference to a 'nail forge', but he is from the leafy area of Sutton Coldfield. Those of us born in the Black Country with nail makers at the bottom of the garden (well next door really) know this should be a 'nailer's den'.


FredPhoto

I think Fred woke Rick up from a deep meditation on the meaning of "to plan".


FredPhoto

From Ruth:

Today started out too wet to dig...


RuthPhoto

... but by break-time everything that could be washed had been washed and the diggers were reduced to speculating about the weather. Fred had already done some geophys on the eastern side of
the site ...


RuthPhoto

and something impressive had turned up in a test pit (see Malcolm's photo yesterday), so three more test pits were dug - by hand, I might add - to see if we could find any more of it.


FredPhoto

After a great deal of turf-shifting and mattocking Steve decided to lift everyone's spirits by declaring a break while he demonstrated the new Olympic sport of pole-aligning.


RuthPhoto

Hopefully more will be revealed tomorrow.


RuthPhoto
FredPhoto


FredPhoto


RuthPhoto



Day 10 of 20: Friday 22 June

Not too wet by the time I got to the site, but it had been wet earlier - to begin with only the pits has been diggable (except for pit D, which was flooded).


FredPhoto


FredPhoto

When I arrived, the test pits were being finished off and we gave themthe workaday names of A,B,C,D from north to south (they had been Tom, original, Dick and Harry until then - much nicer!).

Here are all four roughly lined up (roughly mind!!) - looking west:


North >>>>>>>
D (Harry - unfinished) C (Dick) B (original) A (Tom)

On the site tour, Steve showed us each pit in turn and outlined their various features. The foundation of a wall is kinda obvious in B, and there are glimmers of it in C and D, although the exact situation is not clear. Most of the other stones in the pits are building rubble.

In B there is cut running from SE to NW on the far side of the wall and a post hole - we need to determine the phasing and whether the foundation is cut into it. There is a surface at the far end too.

In C the foundation has been robbed out, but there is a clear soil colour change to show where it was. There appears to be a possible return to the wall in C on the left hand side, running away from the camera (I don't blame it).

In D the level needs to be taken down further to confirm it's features and links to the other pits' features.

A is a bit confused (!) and not obviously linked to B. But Malcolm loves it.

The wall is in the right place to be possibly part of the bank and ditch enclosure that surrounds the site. It may have been an entrance feature for the settlement. Lots more work needed to establish what the features and phasing.

Elsewhere, a lot of effort has gone into working back (towards the east) the complex surface in the north-east quadrant of the site, moving away from the big diagonal drain (sen int he foreground here):

Lots of contexts coming up very clearly and some stone scatter. Steve officially declared the area exciting! Much more work on it next week, including excavating the drain right up to the northern baulk.

End of week 2!


FredPhoto


Test pit D- work in prgoress


Test pit B


Test pit B


Test pit A


Tony putting in a convalescent appearance.

Copyright of this web site, including all text and images (except where otherwise stated), belongs to The Whitehall Farm Roman Villa and Landscape Project. No part of this website may be reproduced in any form without the prior permission of the Project.

Web site design and construction by oliomedia