Today started bright and early with the decision to remove the rubble from the western side of the trench. Quite a lot of heavy digging ensued and we lifted a lot of rocks. Under these were a wall and what appears to be smashed roofing slates.
After lunch we removed the rubble from the eastern side of the trench. This revealed what appears to be another wall on a different alignment.
What is puzzling us is that so far neither of these walls matches what we are expecting to find. Where is the octagonal bath? Perhaps tomorrow will reveal the bath to us but James and Andy both suspect that the trench may need to be extended.
We continue to find Roman pottery and animal bones.
Andy laid out our site grid and worked magic with the GPS. James showed Megan, James P and Anneta how to reduce levels.
We knocked off slightly early and went in search of a BBQ. Having bought one Dan and Chris, who spent the day working hard to tidy the campsite, then managed to put it together and light it. All good and, at the time of writing, the food is eagerly awaited by the team.
We woke up early to hammering rain today. Assessing the heavens and the forecast James and Andy made the decision to rain the team off. The access to our site is quite tricky and made almost impassable in the rain. It seemed the sensible and safest option to not go to work today.
Things dried up in the afternoon, probably enough for us to get to back in the trench but there didn’t seem much point so the team enjoyed a relaxing day off. Meanwhile, Andy was working hard processing GPS data in GIS.
In the evening we enjoyed a fascinating and exotic addition to our camping menu: stir fry. This was new dietary horizon for the Lufton Project and was enjoyed by everyone.
Day two on site started well. The weather was fine and we worked hard to remove a thick silty clay deposit from the northern part of the trench. This layer isn’t very old – it has post-medieval pottery in it and it’s very close to the surface.
The digging team worked really hard. There was lots of mattocking shoveling and quite a bit of troweling. Antonia, James I, Dan, Anetta, Charlie and Chris dug and dug and dug helped by Andy and James G. Ski, our volunteer detectorist (operating under permission from Historic England), added to the excitement. He found nine Roman coins to add to our growing collection of pottery and animal bones. If we’re in the right place this is all material missed by Hayward in the earlier excavations.
Under the thick layer we were digging off today is a great spread of rubble. Our next task is to record this rubble layer, then lift it to reveal what is below. Andy reckons it’ll be 30cm thick. If we’re in the right place there should be a bath and fish mosaic below. Time will tell….
Our first proper day on site. We achieved a lot, removing the turf and topsoil. This has exposed a rubble spread and some other deposits that seem to be later than the rubble. We’re not entirely sure what’s going on yet… time will tell. We have had our first finds – a few sherds of pottery and a couple of fragments of animal bone (including a few cattle teeth). There’s plenty of Roman brick and tile and even a few tessera.
Everyone’s worked really hard and a great deal was achieved. Thanks go to Colin who ran our equipment to site in a trailer pulled by his tractor. Lots of thanks also to Andy who spent a lot of the day driving around Yeovil for various bits and piece and did sterling work putting the big army tent up.
We returned home to some delicious chicken wraps lovingly prepared by Dan and James I
Sunday was spent with Andy and James running around Yeovil collecting bits of equipment from various places. A big shopping trip to Asda, a search for a gas regulator, the purchase of 0.5acres of pony paddock seed and other sundry items took up quite a lot of time.
They also spent a bit of time fruitlessly dodging showers and the odd lightning storm in an attempt to lay out the trench with the GPS.
Meanwhile back at camp Josh set himself to work cleaning various bits of cooking equipment and extracting digging kit from storage in Maggie and Colin’s stable.
Over the course of the day the various member of our team assembled. Aneta (stage 1) flew into Bristol from Poland in the early hours and joined us in the late morning. James P (Stage 1) joined us from Middlesborough in the afternoon along with Meg (Stage 1). Chris, Dan, James I and Antonia found their way to Lufton by car about 5pm. Min is very excited and so is Woofton, the dig mascot.
So we’re all here. Cheesy pasta has been consumed and the team has been briefed. Now for a bit of relaxation before it gets very real and exciting tomorrow!
The advanced party has arrived. We were almost foxed by the new road layout but have safely arrived at the farm.
The journey was pretty straight forward. A few heavy rain showers but no problems with the traffic. At light speed (62mph) we left Newcastle at 8.40am and arrived into Lufton at 4.25pm.
Andy and Josh are putting up tents. Homemade wine has been promised by our generous neighbour Alan. We need to do a quick run for supplies tonight and grab some fish and chips to eat.
Tomorrow will see the arrival of the rest of the team.
Well, it’s the day before we leave. The van has arrived, the scanner is on a plane back from Turkey and will be collected from a service station near Durham tomorrow. All we need to do is load the van, drive several hundred miles, set up camp, dig a trench, find a bath, record it, fill it in and come home. And we’ve just two weeks to do it!
James has got his kit packed, but isn’t sure where his tin camping plate is? Did he leave it in Somerset last year? Andy is searching for and finding first aid kits.
We’re bound to forget something… but it’ll be alright on the night!
We’ll be in the field digging again in a little over ten days. It’ll be a modest excavation this year (on a smaller scale than last year’s investigations) but one which we hope will prove rewarding.
The team will once again be made up of James and Andy as excavation directors. Joining them will be Lufton veterans Doug and Josh who will be supervisors and a small team of first and second year undergraduates. We’ll also be joined by a few members of SSARG,
We’re looking forward to our sixth season of excavation and hope that you’ll keep up to date with our progress by visiting the blog.
Post-excavation analysis of last year’s finds is proceeding apace and we’re able to share a few of the results.
Kevin Rielly over at PCA has assessed our small assemblage of animal bones and in common with many Romano-British sites the inhabitants were exploiting sheep, cattle and pigs. They also had access to mallard (ducks), doves, and chickens. Less welcome visitors to the villa were mice, voles and crows. There’s a little bit of fish bone too. All of this is really interesting as its the kind of evidence that Hayward and his team weren’t able to collect.
Sheep bones under excavation (above)
We’ve also had Dr Jessica Winder look at the marine mollusc shells. It’s a small assemblage but she thinks the oysters, some shells showing of parasitic infestations, may have come from the Poole Harbour region. One or two of our oysters who notches where they were opened by hungry Romano-Britons. Other marine shells include mussels and winkles. This is fascinating as Lufton is quite a long way from the sea!.
An oyster showing signs of infestation by Polydora ciliata (above)
Oysters opened by hungry Romans!
Finally, James Langthorne (also of PCA) has identified some neonatal infant bones. This was a bit of a shock to James and Andy but they are probably from a disturbed baby burial. Infants were often buried in the floors of Roman houses and we think that the burial had been disturbed either by the previous excavators or in antiquity by stone robbers. Further work might shed some light on this issue.
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.’ Naomi, BA Archaeology Stage 3