Turf rampart just outside NW corner of S.F. II

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

May 19th, 2007, 7:11 pm #1

Just read Matt's great synopsis of last week's dig. Loving it! Got me curious though. Matt, you said that you were outside the NW corner of the IV Gaul fort (Stone Fort II), and you found turf rampart but no SF I wall. And then it looked like SF I's wall was possibly used as foundation for the SF II wall. So it sounds like the turf rampart you guys found was actually -outside- SF I's wall. Is that right? So what would the rampart have been for? The Severan fort? Something else?

- Harry
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Andy
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Andy
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Joined: September 11th, 2006, 2:15 pm

May 21st, 2007, 4:49 pm #2

Hi Harry,

I am going to quickly answer this one on Matt's behalf. Basically, we now know that both the turf and timber, and the stone phases of the Antonine fort wall's go north of the present north wall of the last stone fort at Vindolanda. Matt and his team of Kate, Bryan and Pam as well as the fantastic crew of last week, Richard, Lydia et al have done a great job in this area. First they found the turf ramparts, so we fixed that as going north, then, this week, they went lower and located the stone remains of stone fort 1 (which is also an Antonine fortification). As the trench progresses north we will hopefully be able to finally lay this particular ghost to rest, and fix in the location of the northern most defences of the Antonine fort's. It does look likely that the stangate road (Medieval + version) may be set into the north ditches for the Antonine fort's, rather than following a 'Roman' route which is I believe is further to north. In the next couple of years and with the next SMC we propose to locate the stanegate road 'Roman Version' once and for all, but this is a great start.

More annon from Matt I am sure. Photo attached speaks a thousand words.

best,

Andy
excavation_031.jpg
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SacoHarry
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Joined: August 22nd, 2006, 9:29 pm

May 21st, 2007, 5:12 pm #3

Brilliant pic Andy! That's a true beauty of a wall. Small wonder it was reused as a foundation. And thanks for the clarification of what's where. It's strange that the Gauls would shift SF II a few meters south of SF I's footprint. Surely it would have been easier to reuse SF I's north & south walls just as they did with the east & west? Maybe the Severan structures obscured SF I's north & south walls so much that the Gauls just couldn't find them? Or maybe there had been a collapse or some kind of instability that they knew about? Each find really does bring up a half-dozen new questions doesn't it.

Man, I love archaeology.

- Harry
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MBetz
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MBetz
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Joined: November 2nd, 2006, 11:10 am

May 25th, 2007, 8:04 am #4

This week of digging has opened up more of the Antonine fort wall and brought up some new thoughts and questions. On our last day for the week we discovered the sandstone and cobble foundation packing that the Antonine fort wall is built on. The turf rampart on the wall's east or inner side is layed right on top of the foundation layer. That may not sound so crazy since the turf would be cut away for the builders to get in and face the wall most likely but no trench cut is noticeable in the rampart. Also, the rampart is packed right into the remains of the wall, which is only five courses high thus far, and overlays a portion of the wall. So, does that mean the rampart is later? Could it be part of the Severan garrison's work or possibly a garrison in the late 2nd century modifying the fort platform to fit their needs? For this week upcoming there will probably be six and possibly eight diggers working hard to understand the wall and rampart. I know one of the questions in need of an answer is where does the Severan garrison fort wall butt up to the Antonine fort wall. Hopefully we will discover that and the angle turn in teh Antonine wall at the end of the week.
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MBetz
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MBetz
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Joined: November 2nd, 2006, 11:10 am

June 7th, 2007, 6:56 pm #5

I ended last week cleaning up Stone Fort 1's north western wall since there was to be no digging this week due to Andy's vacation. I can say that we now have twenty feet of wall showing. The wall is made of sandstone blocks. The foundation of the wall is two courses high and is cut of the largest sandstone blocks. These are around 10 inches long and 6-7 inches in height. The wall is then stepped back and the smaller cut sandstone blocks make up the wall proper. The best surviving section thus far is nearest the later stone fort 2's corner turn. Stone Fort 1's wall stands a total of 7 courses high and is very well bonded closest to the later stone fort. The turf rampart on the east side of the wall shows well in the profile of the trench. What we found in the last couple of days of digging was the rampart profile beginning to dip down which may mean we had gotten close to the turn in stone fort 1's wall. The other surprise was the cut of a major ditch in the profile of the west wall of the trench near the furthest north of the excavation. A large ditch seems to have damage part of stone fort 1's wall. This ditch may be a part of the defenses cut by the Severan garrison of 208-213 AD. Next week, when work resumes, the full profile of the ditch should show and explain itself (fingers crossed). The next crew to dig the wall will also be working a new section of trench hoping to confirm the turn of the wall or its continuation. Hopefully it will turn before the modern boundary fence that runs along the Stanegate road or there will be many more questions asked of Stone Fort 1's layout! I will be taking pictures and checking in on the crew working the wall next week since I am now with Justin's crew for my last couple of weeks. Stay tuned.
Matt
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