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

 

 

Extending the extension

On Sunday we took the decision to extend our extension. This is on the assumption that the wall we have in the SW corner of our trench is one of the buttresses supporting northern wall of the bath house. Dan, James I and Chris laboured hard to open this new extension. The downside is we are now excavating the entirety to the area allowed to us under by Historic England.

In other developments Meg and James P spent the day drawing the rubble spread.

We were visited in the afternoon by Dr Kevin Hayward of Reading University and also Prof Roger Leech of Southampton University.

 

 

Saturday

As we only have a two week season this year we’ve decided to have a short weekend. Today (Saturday) has been our day off. This has turned out to be a good decision as the heaviest rain of the excavation has fallen today.

Most of the team (older and wiser heads excepted) braved Yeovil’s nightlife yesterday with a trip to Club Neo. Much fun was had and this led to a few of the team rising late today. We’ve generally spent the day relaxing and taking it easy.

Club Neo

We are no closer to discovering where the bath house might be. It doesn’t appear to be in our trench! However, we do have some fascinating archaeology and tomorrow we’ll be trying to clarify and record what we have uncovered so far.

One of our more interesting finds was photographed by Andy today. This is a sherd of BB1, which appears to have a ‘V’ stamped on it. This is a pre-firing mark and James is struggling to think of any parallels for it.

V sherd

 

Extension!

Today was a funny kind of day. We started off by cleaning the rubble in the SE corner of the trench. This we hoped would turn into a wall, but it just seems to be a tip of demolition material sealing a roof collapse. There are oyster shells and pottery in this deposit. All suggestive of in situ unexcavated archaeological deposits.

20170728_131735

We also took the decision to extend our trench by a further 2m x 2m. This is to see if we can expose more of the length of the confusing wall we found just in the SW corner of the trench. Dan, Chris, James I, Charlie and Antonia all had a hand in this extension.

20170728_131748

Antonia and Anneta also started to draw some of the deposits.

It’s all quite perplexing at the moment. Ski found a couple of tiny late Roman coins and Andy found a flint, which predates the villa by a few millennia

We were also visited today by Prof Simon Esmonde-Cleary of Birmingham University and a specialist in the late Roman Empire.

Tonight’s dish was bacon and tomato pasta prepared by James P and Meg. It was delicious.

A guest post from Naomi

Third year student Naomi has been busy sorting our soil samples as part of a Careers Service work experience bursary. She’s kindly written a few words on the work she’s been doing and we hope to post a few pictures in the coming days too!

‘Over the last few weeks the soil samples have almost all been sorted and, although a slow process, are turning up large quantities of interesting finds. In particular two small glass beads from the 4th-5th century which were found in the soil sample from the context over the tessellated pavement. Another small glass bead also turned up in the last sample sieved. There has also been large quantities of CBM, ceramics, including Black-burnished ware, shell and bone. The bones range from chicken neck bones and fish bones to rodent bones. The sieving has also brought up a number of iron objects, mostly nails, as well as a number of the samples including eggshell. The samples should all be done in the next week or so and will hopefully include even more interesting finds that will add to the understanding of the site.’ ┬áNaomi, BA Archaeology Stage 3

20170509_104843

 

 

Chicken necks and fishbones

The large number of environmental samples from last season have all been wet sieved and the residues (essentially bags of gravel with tiny bits of bone, shell, seeds and artefacts in) are back in Newcastle.

Naomi, who is working for the project at the moment, is currently tasked with sorting the interesting stuff from the gravel. She started yesterday and in the very first sample we identified fishbones and also tiny bones from a chicken’s neck.

We’ll post some more updates as work progresses.

 

Roman floors over at Castles & Coprolites

Back in the summer we took lots of samples through some of the deposits that Hayley and here team were excavating in the corridor opposite Room 2.

One of these samples was a small box of sediment contained in a kubiena tin. Essentially this allows us to take a block of deposit from which we can produce a thin-section. This can then be studied scientifically as a micromorphology sample.

Newcastle’s very own expert in archaeological soils – Dr Lisa-Marie Shillito – has kindly been examining our micromorphology sample. Her preliminary observations are available over on her blog Castle and Coprolites.

micromorph

Post-ex: the never ending process

There’s quite a lot going on at the moment.

First of all Andy and James are working hard to put a project design together for this season’s work, We’re asking Historic England for permission to reinvestigate the villa’s bath block. We’d hoped to do this in the 2016 season, but resources didn’t permit. Watch this space for further developments.

In other news various bits of post-excavation analysis are progressing. GeoFlo are just about finished processing last season’s soil samples (greatly helped by James’s production of a stratigraphic matrix for the site). Once the samples have been processed they’ll be heading up to Newcastle for sorting.

Naomi (a third year undergraduate) is working for the project and part of her role will be to sort the sample residues. Until then she’s been busy doing some data entry, quantifying tesserae and doing other bits and pieces.

Mark Hoyle, a fantastic archaeological illustrator, has also been busy drawing some of our finds. Many of these are from our 2014 excavations of the deserted medieval settlement of Barrow (in Odcombe). We’re especially pleased with his drawing of the seal matrix. We hope to submit our report on these excavations for publication in the near future.

Medeival Seal Matrix from Barrow

Medeival Seal Matrix from Barrow

He’s also drawn a few finds from the villa. These include the hairpin James found on the tessellated pavement.

Late Roman  hairpin from the villa

Late Roman hairpin from the villa