The walls

Fig2 - the walls
The walls in Trenches A and B.

Progress has been slow but the drawings of the excavation for the post-ex assessment are coming together. Here you can see the walls we uncovered in Trenches A and B. The large Trench A encompasses the middle of the building. The new room formed by (110) and robbed walls (212) and (134/119) is clearly visible. Part of the bath house is exposed in Trench B.

These walls were drawn stone by stone by Newcastle University students. The exact positions of the walls were also plotted using GPS. They’re much wonkier than Hayward’s drawing would have us believe.

Lufton and Lockdown

It has been a while since we have posted an update on this blog. Work on the post-excavation assessment continues but is delayed by the serious illness of one of the project team.

There were plans to undertake some geophysical survey this year around the villa. Alas, the great Covid19 pandemic has stopped that work. It looks like we’ll be spending a year chained to our desks at least.

There were several major pandemics during the Roman period. The first was the so-called Antonine Plague of the late second century (AD165-180). This does seem to have reached Britain as there are inscriptions relating to it from Hadrian’s Wall.

There was also the Plague of Justinian, which occurred during the sixth-century (AD541-542). This is after the Roman period in Britain, but the Eastern Roman Empire, with its capital at Constantinople, was still very much Roman. The Plague of Justinian may have spread to Britain, where it possibly killed Maelgwn of Gwynedd – a man traditionally associated with the Maglocunus of Gildas.

If you are seeking a socially-distanced walk in these uncertain times a wander out to the site of the villa is a good option. Always tick to the footpath and obey the country code!

An autumn update

It’s been a long while since we’ve posted anything. This year James took some students digging in Yorkshire as he’s still busy working on writing up the Lufton excavations. The post-excavation assessment for the villa is more or less complete. The main outstanding task is the drawings, which due to unforeseen circumstances are taking longer than anticipated.

We hope that GeoFlo may undertake some geophysics for us in the near future. With luck this will shed more light on the ancient landscape around the Lufton villa.

 

Happy New Year!

We haven’t been posting much recently. This is mainly because we are in the final stages or preparing the post-excavation assessment. Most of it is written but some unavoidable delays have slowed the production of the plans. We hope the report will be finished this year!

In other news Patricia Witts who visited the excavations in 2017 has just had her paper ‘A new angle on the Lufton mosaics’ published in Mosaic: the journal of ASPROM. It’s a fascinating study of the pavements from Lufton and includes her up-to-date discussion of the fish mosaic around the bath.

We hope that this year will see some more geophysics undertaken in the fields around Lufton by our friends over in SSARG. We’ve a few interesting locations to work on and if this work goes ahead we’ll try and keep you posted.

 

 

 

The Summer of 2018?

A few people have got in touch with James asking whether we’ll be back digging this Summer. It’s great everyone’s so interested and keen on the project!

As we’ve been digging a Scheduled Ancient Monument for two years it seemed appropriate to take a break and analyse all of the finds we’ve made. At the moment we’re busy writing the post-excavation assessment, which is nearly complete.

We hope that we will be able to return to Lufton in the future. As ever, funding is the biggest issue. Watch this space…

 

A post-ex update: beads

The blog has been quiet for while. Fear not, work has been progressing on the post-excavation analysis of the finds. The soil samples from 2017 have all been sieved and the various tiny residues have been sent off to specialists for analysis.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery made in the sieving of the soil samples are a few tiny glass beads. These are lovely little objects that would have been worn as part of a necklace by a late Roman Lady.

beads

James is currently on research leave, so is planning to crack on with writing the post-excavation assessments. He and Andy have a meeting on Monday to discuss the phasing and plans of the site.

 

Barrow Excavations Published!

We’re pleased to announce the publication of ‘The deserted medieval settlement at (?)Barrow, Odcombe, Somerset: trial excavations in 2014′ by James Gerrard and Andrew Agate (with contributions by Berni Seddon, Kevin Hayward, Don O’Meara and Kevin Rielly) in Volume 32 of Medieval Settlement Research, pages 60-69).

Publication is an important part of the process of archaeological investigation and this article marks the dissemination of the results of the 2014 season of excavation.

So long and thanks for all the fish

Well, we spent the day doing the last bits of recording. This included a few final sections drawings, taking a couple of kubiena samples for soil micormorphology and undertaking a 3D scan of the remains with our Faro 3D scanner.

After lunch we backfilled the trench with the help of Colin and his big machine and spread enough grass seed to reseed our trench several times over.

The rest of the day has involved packing up camp, loading the van for journey north and also washing the van….

It’s been great. A real rollercoaster of an excavation compressed into a fortnight’s hard work. We cam, we dug, we filled it in and along the way found some fish, rubble and pottery. What’s not to love?

We hope you’ve enjoyed following the blog. Please keep checking in with us as the post-excavation work will begin in earnest and new discoveries will be made in the coming months.

Thirty Fish

Today has been our penultimate day on site. Only two more sleeps until our return to Newcastle!

Josh

Not much digging happened today. It’s the end of the excavation, so most of the time was spent undertaking the last bits of vital recording. This included Charlie and Chris drawing a section (in mirror world and then the right way around) and Annetta and Antonia also drawing a section. James P and Meg undertook to draw a plan of the extension, James G and Josh were also drawing plans. Andy spent much of the day photographing the mosaic.

 

Lufton Mosaic

Andy’s picture of the mosaic. At the far left you can just make out the arcs of tessera that mark the nose of another fish…

It was also a day that saw quite a few visitors. In the morning, Michaela, an old school friend of James’s, came to see the mosaic with her daughter and niece. In the afternoon we were visited by half a dozen of our friends from SSARG, including Nigel and Liz who carried out the geophysics with James G back in 2009. Finally, we were visited by Pat Witts, author of A Mosaic Menagerie: creatures of land, sea and sky in Romano-British mosaics. She was thrilled to see our fish and even more excited to see that we had excavated part of ‘Panel C’. This part of the mosaic was poorly recorded in the previous excavations and it is apparent that not only does one of our fish have a turned head but just the tip of another survives. This expands the number of fish on the Lufton mosaic from 29 to 30! Not bad for two weeks in Somerset.

Josh

Pat Witts photographing the fish

Finally, it’s worth recording that back at base Josh found a four-leaf clover. May his (and our) luck continue!

Josh