Binchester Roman Fort Excavation Week 6




Rebecca Cadbury Simmons

Week 6 has ended and we’re now drawing close to the end of the dig itself. This past week has thrown all kinds of weather at us, with some days requiring multiple layers of sun cream, whereas Friday saw the team doing finds washing in the cabins while the rain poured down outside. This hasn’t stopped our progress though, and the volunteers have worked hard this week to remove some more large and difficult archaeology.

On the east side of the Roman road, we dug off a huge clay deposit; this was hard work as it was such a thick layer and the heat made it tougher to get through. We persevered though, and after a few days the deposit had been completely removed. We believe the material had been placed there to try and stop other features from slumping into the underlying defensive ditch.

In this area, we also removed the oven we were working on last week. We found a nice fragment of samian pottery that had a maker’s stamp on it. Although the oven dates from the 3rd century, our finds team traced the pottery’s origin back to 1st-century Gaul, to a maker called Calvus who was manufacturing ceramics between AD65 and AD90.

Our aims for the final two weeks of the excavation are to try to understand the main road and its relationship with the secondary road. With this in mind, we have started to remove a couple of deposits that had been placed to patch up the road surface. We are hoping that as we begin to remove the later repairs to the road we will be able to understand all its different phases of construction.

On the west side of the road, we dug off another huge layer. This was extremely thick and it had slumped into the underlying roadside ditch. Because the layer is overlying the side of the road, we need to remove it completely before we can begin to look at the road construction. Due to the rain, and rising groundwater accumulating in the roadside ditch, we had to bail out the ditch every morning for three days! The water made the working area really boggy, even with the reappearance of the sunshine! However, the volunteers powered through and with the help of some ecogrid (blocks that help us walk on particularly muddy areas) they were able to endure the wet and challenging conditions. On Thursday we were finally able to clean the area back and get it photographed.

On Thursday afternoon the site had a visit from NAA’s director, Mary Fraser, who was delighted with all the hard work the volunteers are doing and credited them for carrying on in what are very tricky conditions – well done to the whole team!

We’ve got two weeks of digging left, so come along and visit the site before 23rd August! On Monday 26th August, Roma Antiqua, Barbatus and assorted mercenaries will be at Binchester displaying their fighting skills and weaponry (for more information click here).

For more updates on what we’re up to and live information from the site, don’t forget to follow us on social media where we are providing daily reports.

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