Area of Excavations 2011

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

March 24th, 2011, 2:09 pm #1

This image shows the basic area of excavation for the 2011 season (as I understand it from Andy's description and the Trust's website).
As the '11 season progresses, I'll try to update the plan weekly, showing about where folks are digging & what levels they're in. (All pending Trust approval, of course). This means we need WeDig'ers to send in pictures and/or reports. Even a one-sentence wrap-up at the end of the week is a big help. Find a wall, tell us! Find a floor, a road, an oven, an amphora, tell us! Find something priceless? DON'T TELL US! :D (Seriously, info that helps armchair diggers follow the season is awesome. But info that leads robbers to sweet spots has no place here.)

Happy digging!
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

April 11th, 2011, 12:39 pm #2

END OF WEEK 1
** updated 12 April**

Many thanks for notes from Terry S and Hadriana, plus a nice e-mail from Andy. Below shows the opening week.

(larger version available by clicking here)

Terry S reports digging near the surface following the barrack wall that runs just to the east of the main north-south road within the fort. (The road with many of its impressive flagstones still in place.) Site #1 on the map. This would be the upper layers, 4th-5th Century (and beyond?). Next to him, a team worked in the area of the 3rd Century temple discovered in 2009 -- Site #3 on the map; unsure what levels there.

Hadriana reports working in the front of the barracks, Site #2 on the map. She and crews next to her were working a bit north of the area where the north-south road (the via praetoria) meets the east-west road (the via principalis). She reports the usual finds of pottery, nails, metal bits. But also a carved stone and -- amazingly -- a "measuring tape" stone with lines and triangles notched into it to help builders mark out buildings/roads. Too cool. Her crews are also comparatively deep down. She seems to have spent some time in 3rd Century levels (the early years of the visible Stone Fort II), but also worked on at least one Antonine era road. (That would be late 2nd Century, part of the leveled Stone Fort I. The road may be the equivalent to the visible via praetoria. Parts of this older N/S road were discovered in late 2010.)

Looks like the weather was (mostly) conducive to diving right in. Hat's off to first-week'ers, and many thanks for the reports! I think it's going to be fun watching this unfold.
Last edited by SacoHarry on April 18th, 2011, 12:20 pm, edited 10 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

April 18th, 2011, 12:20 pm #3

END OF WEEK 2

The areas being uncovered in Week 2 appear to be the same as Week 1.

(larger version available by clicking here)

Limited news from WeDig'ers so far from Week 2. Justin's Twitter feed shows activity in (I believe) Site #2 on the map, largely in the Antonine levels. That's late 2nd Century, "Stone Fort I." The visible fort is "Stone Fort II," built mostly over the flattened remains of SFI. Justin mentions maybe hitting a centurion's apartment. The centurion headed a "century" or company of soldiers -- 80 or so men. Each barrack row in a Roman fort held a century. The centurion's apartment sat at one end. Regular soldiers slept several to a room, but the centurion lived in relative luxury, with a multi-room apartment of his own.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

April 24th, 2011, 12:52 pm #4

END OF WEEK 3

Work seems to have shifted to a much-expanded Site #2 on the map. Site #3, the Dolicheneum (temple complex to Jupiter Dolichenus) is undergoing conservation for permanent display.


(larger version available by clicking here)

Site #2 on the map sits in the rightmost of 3 barrack-rows that occupy the NW quarter of the latest fort, "Stone Fort II." Diggers are excavating down through this Stone Fort II barrack block to the earlier Antonine fort below, "Stone Fort I." Well-preserved Antonine barracks & road systems are starting to show up in these deeper levels. This earlier fort layout seems to be shifted 4-5 meters to the right (east) of the later fort. The map above shows the layout of the latest fort. You can see that the main north-south road runs just to the east of the barrack in Site #2, with a smaller alley just to the west of that barrack. The same system is showing up for the Antonine fort underneath, just shifted to the right.

Sandwiched between SFI and SFII is a very short-lived period, the "Severan" occupation of about AD 208-213. In ~AD 208 the whole of SFI was knocked to the ground, and the area was instead covered by bizarre "roundhouses." Reason still unknown! But at least one of these roundhouses has been found between SFI and SFII in Site #2 (photos coming), including its foundations and an oven.
Last edited by SacoHarry on April 24th, 2011, 7:55 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

May 2nd, 2011, 12:45 am #5

END OF WEEK 4

Site #2 has been the heart of the activity this week.

(larger version available by clicking here)

Reports and pictures are showing really impressive features. Below the latest fort, Stone Fort II, many of the Severan "roundhouses" are showing up, including ovens & hearths in their midst. Below them are well-preserved barracks, roadways, and roadside drains of Stone Fort I. The find of a piece of samian pottery with a repair made in lead emphasizes how prized these plates & bowls were.

Many of the SFI barrack walls seem to be slumped into an earlier north-south ditch. If so, this is odd, as this area would also have been within the walls of the earlier forts. A ditch running inside a fort? Elsewhere, curious stones by the temple at the north of the fort suggest possibly a gated entrance to that section of fort/fort road.

Looks like another great week of digging. Photos have come in and I'll try to get them (and their links) up soon!
Last edited by SacoHarry on May 2nd, 2011, 12:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Badger
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Badger
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Joined: May 12th, 2008, 1:10 pm

May 2nd, 2011, 5:27 am #6

Walked over to the site yesterday. And Harry is correct, some serious archeology is coming up. In addition to the mysterious north south ditch (?) speculated to run under the area marked as 2 in Harry's most recent map, there also appears to be an east west area of settling near the top of this area. It is sufficient to be causing some of the massive pavers of the Stone Fort II main road to sink.

Could this be not just one errant ditch but the corner of a defensive ditch system

But so very much in the wrong place!

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

May 8th, 2011, 3:11 pm #7

END OF WEEK 5

Focus seems to have shifted slightly west from Site #2, to a new strip I'll label Site #4. This is the smaller roadway between two sets of barrack blocks to the west, and the heavily excavated barrack block to the east (the focus of Site #2).

(larger version available by clicking here)

This roadway is something of an alley for local comings & goings. Instead of large flagstones it was cobbled. "Badger" Tim reports that much digging is going into defining walls along both sides of the roadway, while other crews are preparing to lift the road up to see what lies beneath. It seems that what's being found is similar to Site #2 -- a well-defined range with the 3rd/4th Century buildings on top, evidence of the short-lived Severan roundhouses below, and well-preserved barrack block/roadway from the 2nd C Stone Fort I. As at Site #2 just to the east, the layout of SFI's buildings & road look very similar to SFII, except that the former was all shifted to the east about 10-15 feet or so.

Meanwhile, all up and down Site #2, a great sequence of SFII/roundhouses/SFI is currently on display. It seems to have been a busy 5 weeks! The great series of photos from Terry & Pauline have shown the latest barrack block to be divided into apparently 9 apartments, with the northernmost seeming to be the centurion's quarters. I've updated the map to show that.
Last edited by SacoHarry on May 8th, 2011, 3:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

May 15th, 2011, 12:08 pm #8

END OF WEEK 6
(May 9 - May 13)

This week was all Site #4 -- "Temple Avenue."

(larger version available here)
** Note: I've tightened up Site 4 to stay within the bounds of the 3rd/4th C roadways. And I've also squeezed the western two barracks down a bit. After being on site I can see that "Temple Ave" is bigger & more prominent than I'd been drawing it. **

The goal was to take out the 4th & 3rd C road surfaces, to see the late 2nd C (Antonine) level below. Andy & Justin expected there to be another Antonine barrack hidden under it -- a mirror image of the barrack to the east.

But as the week went on, it became clear that things weren’t going to be so easy. A lot of strange things popped up. At the far northern bit of the road, we came down on a layer of heavy burning, and some unfaced stones. Just south of that, we hit a 4ft x 4ft section of beautiful flagstone flooring, which might be Severan and still might lie on top of the Antonine barrack, if it’s there. A bit further south, Pete looked like he’d found proper Antonine barrack wall. But after another day or so of digging it looked much less clean & straight. Further south still, Jeff’s crew came down on some very odd stonework that looked like a T-junction for a drain. Again probably Severan, and no sign yet of the Antonine wall.

So the ground under the 3rd/4th C roadways is full of mysteries, most of them truncated, or bashed up, or otherwise really hard to figure out. Still, it was a good week. If you knew what you were going to find, there’d be no point digging. Week 7 will continue the work in trying to get down to Antonine levels, and then hopefully something will start coming up that makes sense!
Last edited by SacoHarry on May 31st, 2011, 3:08 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

May 23rd, 2011, 12:23 am #9

END OF WEEK 7
(May 16 - May 20)

More heavy work on Site #4, and a return to Site #1

(larger version available here)

Dodging wind and rain, crews spent most of their effort clearing more of the 3rd & 4th C road ("Temple Ave") in Site #4 down to the Antonine level. Justin mentions a well-preserved Severan roundhouse sandwiched between the 3rd C road and the Antonine levels, sounds good!

Other reports list a nice catalog of fun finds, from legionary stamps on tiles to large bits of glass, samian pottery fragments, an octagonal column base, a knife blade, beads.

Elsewhere, work is ramping back up in Site #1, the northern end of the flagged main N/S roadway of the latest fort. Underneath the 3rd/4th C road is the expected continuation of the Antonine barrack that was found to the south. But as in Site #4, the farther north the dig goes, the less well-preserved the Antonine material. What was nice finished, faced stonework in the south turns to unsquared rubble foundation core to the north. In the western bit of Site #1, crews have begun descending into 3rd Century barrack floors. This northern part of this particular barrack would have been the centurion's quarters. Regular soldiers slept about 8 to a room; centurions got their own private multi-room suite at the end of a barrack block, so lived comparatively well.

(Curiously, the Antonine fort that lay below the latest fort reversed the position of the barracks -- their centurion quarters were placed near the center of the fort, rather than the northern edge.)
Last edited by SacoHarry on May 31st, 2011, 3:08 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

May 31st, 2011, 12:28 am #10

END OF WEEK 8
(May 23 - May 27)

Finishing up current work on Site #4, more in Site #1, and two new sites: #5 & #6

(larger version available here)

This week started with major rain & wind, but picked up by the end. Diggers finished tearing out gently excavating away the last remains of Temple Avenue along Site #4, finally laying bare the Antonine road/barrack surface. (Remember, the Antonine (late 2nd C) fort was shifted a bit to the east (right) of the later fort. So under the 3rd/4th C alley lies the eastern edge of an Antonine barrack and the western half of its corresponding alley.) More well-preserved Severan roundhouses showed up in the process.

Remains in Site #1 were also cleared, in places down to the Antonine levels where they could be reached. It's become clear that all of the late 2nd C and 3rd C material is subsiding into an earlier north-south ditch -- probably the eastern ditch of Vindolanda's Period IV fort (early 2nd Century, pre-Hadrianic).

As Temple Avenue work ended, crews were pulled to start working in the 4th Century apartments just to its west, Site #5. They started clearing the battered 4th C levels to reveal the 3rd Century barracks below. One room was clearly a workshop, as it was filled with a mass of burned material, as well as large amounts of pottery and other small finds. As usual, weird things were found -- badly behaved walls & drains appearing where they didn't belong, etc.

Lastly, another new area, Site #6, was started. This is the intervallum road running between the north end of the barracks and the north wall of the fort. Evidence of multiple repavings came to light, but little in the way of finds.

Cheers to katesf for the bulk of the info, along with Justin's great Twitter feed and photos by TerryS showing the state of things at the beginning of Wk 9 (which is how they were left at the end of Wk 8).
Last edited by SacoHarry on May 31st, 2011, 2:17 am, edited 2 times in total.
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