SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

June 6th, 2011, 2:18 pm #11

END OF WEEK 9
(May 30 - June 3)

Heavy focus on the expanded Site #5, continued work on Site #6

(larger version available here)

*** Note the updated plan for the barrack in Site #5. The overlying 4th-5th C remains have been removed from the site, revealing the orderly 3rd C barrack block in its entirety: 8 apartments for regular soldiers, and a suite of rooms at the north end for the centurion. (Divisions in the centurion's block partially conjectural.) ***

Week 9 went from cold & clammy to full sun & scorching, with some hard digging. The heavy focus of the week was clearing all of the rooms in the Site #5 barrack block down to their original 3rd Century levels. And then to start going underneath, to the Severan & Antonine periods below. The barrack is well-preserved in places, with some walls still up to 6 courses high including foundation. The east-facing doorways are visible in most of the barrack rooms.

Within the rooms were some interesting finds of stone storage boxes, evidence of burning/fire pits, as well as some wonderful small finds -- a spearhead, stamped objects, most of a highly decorated samian bowl, much else.

One of the barracks revealed a truly impressive semicircular flagstone floor underneath its surface. Andy says that the floor predates the barrack that was built on top of it. He also says that in places diggers have come down onto levels from the AD 160s. (Keep in mind, that means that those levels have nothing to do with the currently visible barrack block -- they relate to the Antonine period fort and its arrangement of buildings/roads.)

In cleaning up the verandah area in front of the barrack block (which would be the east side -- facing "Temple Avenue"), diggers also starting delving beneath the 3rd Century levels into the Severan/Antonine below. Walls, footings, foundation rubble, and other truncated stone features have come up. Not sure yet if any sense has been made of how they relate to each other.

Lastly, other diggers continued peeling away the multiple road surfaces of the intervallum road in Site #6; no reports of finds or discoveries from there.

All in all it seems that, once consolidated, Temple Avenue and its well-preserved barrack blocks on either side should look awesome. Visitors will be able to get a true & coherent sense of space. Pretty cool.

Much thanks to Terry S & Sue Monro for details & pictures, as well as to Andy for helping fill in the blanks. Please visit the Week 9 page for great pictures & links of the barrack rooms and the samian pottery.
Last edited by SacoHarry on June 6th, 2011, 2:32 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

June 12th, 2011, 11:42 pm #12

END OF WEEK 10
(June 6 - June 10)

Continued push on Site #5 in prep for aerial crane camera

(larger version available here)

Week 10 was all about the final cleaning of the barrack block just west of Temple Avenue down to its original 3rd Century layout. This involved removing the last bits of a 4th C workshop, trying to make sense of various pits and wobbly floors, and the usual head-scratchers. Word from all is that it looks stunning. Looking forward to pictures from the week if & as possible! Reports of more great finds, lovely pottery, the remains of another Severan roundhouse, and a probable pre-Antonine (meaning early 2nd Century) ditch that is causing the Antonine (and later?) walls to subside.

From all reports, the teams this year so far have come up with archaeology that is going to be visible, gorgeous, & very educational to visitors for years or decades to come. Thanks to el kevano, Lyn A, and Justin for great info. Can't wait to see the pictures from maryb_10!
Last edited by SacoHarry on June 14th, 2011, 12:16 am, edited 1 time in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

June 20th, 2011, 3:16 pm #13

END OF WEEK 11
(June 13 - June 17)

Location provisional, seems to be still Site #5, inside the barrack block west of "Temple Avenue"

(larger version available here)

The digging seems to be continuing downward underneath the floor levels of the 3rd Century barrack block. Reports are coming in now of very well-preserved wood, probably from early-to-mid 2nd Century (pre-Antonine) levels. Ian & Averil sent a note reporting the possible top of a wooden water tank peeking up!! Proof again that just a few feet below the ground the preservation at Vindolanda is striking.

If you have time, take a look through the quick flip-through page of the various occupation periods.* What's visible at the surface is mostly VII-X. The levels diggers have now gone down to are probably periods IV and V. These early periods are completely unrelated to anything visible at the surface of the site. They date to a much larger early Vindolanda fort that was in use at the time that Hadrian's Wall was being built in the 120s AD. This fort would have had wooden walls, and wooden barrack buildings. So if preservation holds, all kinds of amazing posts, walls, floors, fencing, etc. might still lie intact. As well as the answers to a lot of questions about just how the early forts were laid out. Really exciting stuff!

* This flip-through was made in early 2009 before the late barracks were uncovered & recorded. Site #5 above lies right about where the "north pointer" symbol is.
Last edited by SacoHarry on June 20th, 2011, 3:33 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

June 28th, 2011, 12:17 pm #14

END OF WEEK 12
(June 20 - June 24)

Continuing under Site #5, and returning to southern tip of the old Site #2.

(larger version available here)

All reports were rain, rain, & more rain. Making for a slow & frustrating week. But there were bright spots. WeDig'er Rosie reports 4 main teams. 3 continued in Site #5, working up and down the barrack to the left of Temple Ave. One team in the centurion's quarters at the northern end came down on yet another of the Severan roundhouses. A second team in the barracks was well down into 2nd Century layers, even digging up pre-Hadrianic pottery. The third worked at the southern edge of the barrack amid a muddle of drains, road, & ditch. The fourth team was across Temple Avenue at the southern end of the right-hand (eastern) barrack block, back in Site #2 which was the focus of the early weeks this year. They too seem to have been sorting through various ditch/road/drain bits.

Apparently clear skies and warm for Week 13. Please keep sending in tidbits. A picture, a sentence, a paragraph. Whatever you have time/incliation for. And happy digging, summer WeDig'ers!
Last edited by SacoHarry on June 28th, 2011, 1:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

July 5th, 2011, 12:01 pm #15

END OF WEEK 13
(June 27 - July 1)

Same locations as Week 12, digging down well into the early-mid 2nd Century anaerobic layers.

(larger version available here)

Rosie reports diggers working in the same locations as Week 12, digging down well into the preserved anaerobic layers of the early 2nd Century. Reports of laminate bracken floor "carpeting" coming up, which is where so much of Vindolanda's wooden, leather, and cloth items have come from in the past.

WeDigers Ian & Averil posted brilliant photos of a reused altar and a carved lion's head. The altar, with no inscription but with odd geometric and snake-like carvings, was used as the base of a buttress supporting a room at the northern end of Site #5. (The location of the old Centurion's quarters from the 3rd Century; not sure what exactly this late buttressed building was.) The lion's head was made of the same soft sandstone used by the Stone Fort I (Antonine) builders for much of their carved work, and was found reused in a 3rd/4th Century wall.

Rosie also reports areas of burning showing up, as well as hunks of lead. Both suggest workrooms amid the early 2nd Century levels. Whatever was going on, this area would have represented the northeast quadrant of the various early 2nd Century forts. Up to now, almost nothing was known of this area of the early forts, so every spade that goes into the ground is revealing new information. Good stuff.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

July 18th, 2011, 12:32 am #16

END OF WEEK 15
(July 11 - July 15)

After a brief intermission, the weekly updates are back. Week 15 (and Week 14) have focused on 3 main areas: the southern part of Temple Avenue, extending into the barracks, labeled Zone 4/5s(outh); the centurion's apartment in the barrack just west of Temple Avenue, labeled Zone 5n(orth); and an examination of the deep levels under the late fort's main north-south roadway, Zone 2.


(larger version available here)

Many thanks to el kevano for great pics and a fab update of the past two weeks of digging. Work is progressing in three areas, down into the mid-2nd century layers, and probably even into the early 2nd Century. The southern portion of Temple Avenue (Zone 4/5s) has been taken well back into the 2nd century, with the smell of anaerobic layers, many stains of wooden beams, and a ton of still very confusing archaeology coming up. The area of the 3rd C centurion's apartment (Zone 5n) is also being taken down to the mid/early 2nd Century layers. It is also a jumble of periods & features. But it seems just possible that the northern intervallum roadway of the Period VI early-Antonine fort may be showing up. This fort would have been laid out in about the same dimensions as the visible 3rd/4th C fort, but was originally built of wood, probably in the AD 140s. Finding the northern road that butted up against the northern wall would help give really good evidence for the layout of that mysterious period.

Zone 2 has been chock-a-bloc as well. Just under the turf, this area was the 3rd/4th Century north-south road. Beneath that lay an Antonine (late 2nd C) period barrack. That barrack had its centurion's quarters at the southern end rather than the north as was done with the later 3rd C barrack. In the past two weeks, many layers of flooring from that centurion's quarters have come up, and the diggers have started getting below the late 2nd C on down into the mid-early 2nd C.

Justin's tweets describe posts and the stains in the ground of what would have been wooden sleeper beams for pre-Hadrianic forts, mostly likely periods III or IV. El kevano's pictures & update show all sorts of tantalizing pits, stains, walls, patches of rubble, Severan stonework, etc.

So at the end of Week 15 there are now no less than 7 (maybe more) different occupation periods exposed at various points of the current excavation. They date from the late 4th Century (Period IX) all the way back to the early 2nd (probably Period III). More power to anyone tasked with making sense of the jumble for the final report!
Last edited by SacoHarry on July 18th, 2011, 12:34 am, edited 2 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

July 27th, 2011, 4:14 pm #17

END OF WEEK 16
(July 18 - July 22)

This week started with a deluge and much bailing of trenches, but ended with a new vicus trench and excellent early archaeology in some of the deeper trenches within the fort.


(larger image available here)

The rains early in the week put a damper on some digging during Week 16. But it seems that the week ended with a bang. Katesf reports digging in the drains on the north side of the main east-west road inside the fort (I think this is the Zone 5s -- correct me if I'm wrong!). Cyan's team worked in Zone 5n, the old centurion's apartment of the 3rd C barrack. They revealed flagstones coming up under the Severan roundhouse that itself lay under the apartment. And just to the east of the roundhouse, they found burning, a ditch, and the beautiful cobbling of a north-south roadway. The level appears Antonine. But that would be strange, because in the Antonine era that was supposed to be another barrack. What's a road doing there, then?? (It wasn't clear, but it appeared that maybe digging had been called off in Zone 2 along the north-south road, so I removed that from the active sites. Can someone confirm?)

The season has progressed so quickly, that a new trench has been opened, #7, out in the vicus to the west of the fort (and sadly far off the carefully cultivated map!). Over the years, most of the 3rd Century vicus west of the fort has been excavated, but this season at least one of the missing sections is getting checked out. So far the turf has been pulled back, revealing some of the roadside aqueduct that brought fresh water to the town from the wells & springs at the far NW of the site. In addition, the large foundation stones of one of the vicus's typical strip houses also seemed to be coming up.
Last edited by SacoHarry on July 27th, 2011, 4:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

August 8th, 2011, 12:33 am #18

END OF WEEK 18
(Aug 1 - Aug 5)

A wet & truncated week, with activity mostly in Site #2 (the 2nd Century levels below the 3rd-4th C north-south road) and Site #5n (the 2nd C levels below the 3rd C centurion's quarters at the NW corner of Temple Avenue).

(larger version available here)

Week 18 saw downpours on Tuesday and Thursday, and a sick Justin for some other bits of the week. Nonetheless, crews worked hard when & as possible on a scaled-down site. It seems that one base of activity was the deep, gloopy levels under the old centurion's quarters at the NW end of Temple Avenue. Justin has confirmed that the ditch running east-west through that trench is in fact one of the early fort ditches. For reference, take a quick look at Period II and Period IV. These two early wooden Vindolandas were laid out at a different angle to the visible stone fort. Their northern walls ran through the middle of the later fort, but up to now their exact location was iffy. Finding this large, well-preserved ditch has been a real prize this year!

Many thanks to Sue Monro for coming back from a bad burn to dig Week 18 and put up some great photos & story. Sue reports her team working across the mid-early 2nd Century layers in Site 2, uncovering a ton of slag -- more evidence of more metalworking. Sometimes it seems that everybody's back room at Vindolanda was a workshop. Self-sufficiency ruled the day.

Last edited by SacoHarry on August 8th, 2011, 1:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

August 16th, 2011, 12:22 am #19

END OF WEEK 19
(Aug 8 - Aug 12)

A very wet & truncated week! Yet a few dry patches in-between showers, as diggers worked on late 3rd C buildings in the vicus and chased the early 2nd C fort ditch within the main fort.


(larger version available here)

Thanks to TerryS, PaulineM, and MickArchaeology for great updates this week, despite the weather. The early 2nd Century northern fort ditch, found under the 3rd C centurion's apartment (area 5n), is coming up well. It is in great condition, with discarded wicker fencing, laminate flooring, and other organics coming out of it. The turf blocks making up the north rampart wall behind the ditch were also found. (Still not sure if this is Period III or Period IV fort wall. Maybe the same wall/ditch was reused from Period III to IV in this area?) As parts of the site were slowly being backfilled, crews were set to work chasing the early ditch to the east, back in area 1. Unsure how close the crews in area 1 are to the ditch level.

Out in the vicus, west of the bath house, crews found more of the stone-capped water channel running along the main vicus road. Behind the channel, the remains of a rectangular (?) vicus building have shown up, as well as an enigmatic wall. The rectangular building appears well-laid. The wall is quite rough. More answers lead to more questions, as always!

All in all, a wet & frustrating week, but also trenches that are now down onto some remarkable material.
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Badger
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Badger
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Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

August 16th, 2011, 12:58 am #20

I don't suppose the map could be updated with faint dotted blue lines to show the appearing and disappearing bodies of water on site....

T.Wolter
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