We began the day on site as we had yesterday, only with a slight hitch before breakfast. The incredibly strong winds overnight had caused our marquee to buckle under the strain, meaning we again had attempt a salvage mission. We decided to take the marquee down for the day as the weather was only due to get worse. Maggie and Colin again proved to be the greatest of hosts by offering the use of their kitchen to ensure we were all fed and prepared for what was to be a long and blustery day on site, as well as the use of one of their barns whilst the worst of the weather passed!
When we arrived on site, we found our Army tent still standing strong. With our equipment gathered we set out to trowel back the remaining section of the trench, to reveal the remaining features on site. One area at the Southern end of the trench was of particular interest, as it had provided some pottery sherds when the original top-soil and sub-soil had been removed. When this area was trowelled back several black burnished body sherds were found by James and James H. With the remainder of the trench trowelled several potential features were revealed.
Regrouping for morning break the team then split off to new features or continued to excavate features started yesterday. James H drew a plan and section of his feature and finalised the paperwork, as did Hayley, Samara and Josh. Holly-Ann, Tilly and James continued the gargantuan task of removing the layer at the Northern end of the trench to find any features hidden below, whilst Douglas and Sue continued excavating the Post-Medieval feature they began yesterday.
Hayley and Josh then began excavating the Southern side of the Northern trackway, making great progress. By mid-afternoon Ellie and Zara had finished excavating a feature with a natural sandstone base, they were then tasked with removing the section in Andy’s trench – in the hopes of finding more dating evidence. After the first few scrapes of the trowel they unearthed the first Small Find of this year’s excavation – the below fragmentary Millstone.
Thus marking a brilliant end to a day that had started so badly.
Today marked the first day on site for the new students, which started with the basics and a safety briefing before beginning a mass trowelling of the site. Shortly after, Sue and Brian, volunteers from SSARG arrived on site and joined in trowelling – meanwhile at the northern end of the site Hayley and James finished planning a feature.
Chris and Hayley had continued working on their features from last week, finding a fragment of a hypocaust flu tile. It is most likely to have come from the Villa, and is likely akin to the tile given to us by a neighbour last week.
After morning break the students and volunteers were assigned to features that had been revealed during trowelling, some sherds of pottery were found throughout the day – a highlight being a fragment of medieval green glazed pottery found by James H. Samara, Tilly and Holly-Ann took on the mammoth task of removing a large layer in the northern end of the trench, whilst Chris and Josh continued to remove slot from a ditch started on Friday.
The new starters arrived back at camp in high spirits, but they’ll be aching in the morning!
Taking into account the lost hour of sleep we allowed ourselves a later start to the day. After gathering in the marquee James and Andy led the team to site, braving the changing weather conditions, whilst trying not to disturb the marathon runners. James discussed the progress of the excavation so far, and crucially putting the site into its context within the wider landscape.
Later in the day the team went to Yeovil to explore the town and get any extra supplies needed for the next two weeks. We returned to camp to our heavily storm-proofed marquee – in anticipation of tomorrow on site.
Today was Saturday and a busy day all round.
James was off in Yeovil speaking to the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society and Abbey 104 FM about the project.
Meanwhile Andy, Hayley and James H were back at camp masterfully coping with a freak gust of wind that over turned our marquee. Thanks to Colin who helped out in getting this mini-disaster straightened out.
The evening saw Newcastle Students arrive from all points of the compass. Josh, Zara, Samara, Holly-Ann, Elliott, Tilly, Douglas and Ellie all arrived and began to settle in. Our reinforcements have arrived!
Everyone arrived on site feeling refreshed after well needed early night, ready to take on the day.
James H finished removing the fill of his ditch and prepped it to be photographed, after a plan and section drawing were completed – making this ditch the first finished feature of our site!
Meanwhile Chris, Hayley and James continued to excavate their feature throughout the day, discovering that it continued to grow in complexity with each scrape of the trowel.
We also received a visit from the students of Preston Secondary School. Andy showed them around the site, explaining what we are doing and why.
After the visit, Andy continued to work on a feature he had begun excavating earlier this week, expanding his section and discovering more stakeholes, in what we believe to be the feature enclosing the Roman site.
To their dismay Chris and James H were then tasked with excavating a section of what we think is a large ditch that cuts across the trench North East, South West – a couple of sherds of pottery and pieces of flint were found.
And that draws an end to an excellent week! With reinforcements arriving tomorrow we hope the next couple of weeks will be just as productive. With that it’s time for some food and a couple of well-earned drinks!
After heavy showers last night we expected the site to be soaked through when we arrived, however there were only a couple of small puddles to be mopped up. We took to other duties whilst we waited for the site to dry out: finishing the grid co-ordinates, organising the paperwork and established a Temporary Bench Mark on site.
We then took advantage of the moist conditions to trowel back a 20m x 5m section of the trench to reveal more features in the northern end of trench. There seems to be multiple features present in the changing colours of clay.
A brief diversion mid-day was a close fly-past by a flight of Merlin helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton.
We then continued to excavate our features from yesterday. Chris and Hayley found pottery dating from the 4th century in their feature, whilst James H found pottery dating from the Late Iron Age to the Early Roman Period in his. The day finished with a team discussion regarding the sequence of our excavated features, it’s complicated but we will not be beaten!
Our efforts today began by tackling one of the larger features on the site, which stretched from one side of the trench to the other. We took a section across the feature, split into teams of two: Hayley and Chris, and James and James H – working from either end of the section towards the middle.
It quickly became clear that the feature is more complex than anticipated – it currently seems that there are approximately three intercutting features. James and James H are currently working on a possible track way, with various pottery finds and small amounts of worked flint. Hayley and Chris have had great success excavating a rather deep ditch with a complex series of fills and multiple pottery and iron finds!
It dawned on us today the size of our excavation – the trench measures 100m x 4m. With reinforcements arriving on Saturday and help from our friends from SSARG, we will take it in our stride!
Finally! We had a special visitor on site for the first time this season – Woofton spent the day supervising the team!
A visitor to our site today asked James G whether we were archaeologists or installing a gas pipe. The confusion is due to our new bigger and better trench. It’s 100m long and 4m wide.
The landowner came over to see what we’ve been up to and gave his blessing (many thanks!) to the new, enlarged trench, Most of the work so far has been due to Mike Grinter and his digger, which has been working flat out.
It’s early days but archaeological features are showing up (some where the geophysics say they should be, others don’t appear on the magnetometry).
One feature in particular contained a large and fresh fragment from a Roman jar and Andy began excavating a narrow ditch. This ditch we think might have been part of an enclosure around the villa and is an interesting feature. It’s got a number of fills, one of which is very charcoal rich and another contains sherds of a slightly micaceous greyware Roman period jar.
Chris, Hayley and James H continued trowelling, this time defining a large ‘blob’, which might be a number of intercutting features.
An excellent day with lots achieved and lots to do tomorrow.
The excavation began in earnest today. When the boundaries of the trench had been marked out the top-soil and sub-soil was removed, James and Andy machine watched – looking for features identified on the geophysical survey.
Whilst the trench was being machined, Hayley, Chris and James H set about piecing together and erecting the tent on site.
After the team had taken a well-earned lunch break, we pressed on. The tent team were tasked in tidying the edges of excavation and troweling back the site, as James and Andy continued machine watching. As the trench was trowelled back several features stood out, some of which are the clearest we’ve seen during the Lufton Project.
By the end of today the team had made excellent progress: we have managed to remove all of the top-soil and sub-soil from our planned area of excavation, and we have trowelled back half of that area.
We also had our neighbour visit us on site with the infamous bread stealing dog, he presented us with the brilliant sign pictured below. To serve as a warning to all those in camp!
All in all we’ve had an excellent day, even managing to avoid the rain! It was topped off by a visit to the Masons Arms, which saw James and Andy deep in thought strategising tomorrow’s activities.
After recovering from our long day on the road yesterday, James and Andy began by collecting some tools from our friends over at SSARG. Meanwhile Hayley, Chris and James H were tasked with organising the camp.
Later in the day the team recced the site. Whilst the trench was being marked out some of us performed a brief ‘fieldwalk’: we found several interesting sherds of pottery; including a New Forest Colour Coated beaker fragment dating between A.D. 270 – 400+.
Upon our arrival back at camp, a neighbour brought over a Roman hypocaust flu tile, which he had found in a wall on his property – an image of which can be seen below. This might have come from the villa or another high status Roman building nearby.
Tomorrow’s task is to begin machining back the top-soil and set up our tent on site.
But for now we’ve decided to make the most of the sunny weather and have a BBQ!