At the end of the first week of excavations at Binchester Roman Fort, we had finished cleaning off the site and could see patches of cobbles starting to appear. The first half of the second week has involved the volunteers working hard to take the soil layer down to reveal the road surface below. As more of the road has been unveiled, we have realised that it is not one single event but is actually made up of many areas that have been patched together. This shows us that the road has been used and repaired over a long period of time. On the eastern edge of the road, one patch of rubble seems to be slumping in, which may indicate that there are interesting underlying features.
In the north western edge of the trench, a spread of rubble is also beginning to appear. Although the shape of the spread is hinting that this may be structural, it’s far too early to tell and as of yet there is no clear coursing, so we look forward to excavating further to see what this becomes.
As we dig we are continuing to get some lovely finds from the excavations. A few more coins have been unearthed, much to the delight of some of the volunteers who have never found a coin before. We also found a fantastic fragment of Crambeck ware mortaria on which you can still feel the grinding surface on the interior!
The heatwave has continued throughout the week, which has meant that the work is made more difficult by the ground being baked solid and by the dust generated once that ground is broken up. There has also been a sudden influx of pollen beetles attracted to bright yellow and orange colours of our high vis vests. The volunteers have kept their spirits up and have tirelessly continued beyond these difficulties, for which we are extremely grateful.
Day four update
Thursday saw the continued excavation of the road surface. On part of the western side of the road the surface is subsiding fairly significantly, indicating that there may be cut features below causing the subsidence.
The investigation of the rubble material continued apace, producing a very distinct finds assemblage from that in the material overlying the road.
The removal of a huge compacted clay layer has not daunted our volunteers, even in these challenging conditions. The bulk of this material has now been removed and the process of cleaning up the remnants and exposing the underlying deposits.
After a week of toil in this record breaking heat, a talk by Principal Archaeologist, Romanist and site director David Mason will prove a welcome respite on Friday afternoon!
Our thanks again to all our wonderful volunteers and here’s hoping for some cooler and wetter weather next week.