Monday, January 21, 2013

Digging for Romans-2013

Still frozen solid here in the States, which gets me thinking about digging in the warm spring sunshine of Northern England.

The blog name "Detritus of Empire" comes from its original incarnation, as a daily email report to the folks back home when I was away on my annual volunteer stint excavating at the site of a former Roman fort/community in England.

I am signed up again for 2013.

Last year was my fifth time over, and in some ways not the most fun one.  Dreadful, dreary weather. Rain every single day.   Heavy, slimy earth to move.  Frequent scanning of the heavens to see if the day's excavations would in fact happen.

But this is part of the experience.

As I stare out the window at chilly climes I can at least revisit gentle sunny days, and some interesting finds over the years.  Some of these are things I was reluctant to show at the time....there is an ongoing concern that outlaw metal detectors will sneak in at night and rummage through the excavations.

photo credit P. Savin
Well, the ground is frozen, even in England, and the finds I am showing today are all from areas now excavated and either backfilled or reconstructed with modern reinforcement of ancient stonework.  Plus, none of them are all that valuable, certainly nothing worth getting arrested and prosecuted at the Queen's Bench!

An assemblage of finds.  The large dark bit is a chunk of carved stone from some kind of monument or decorative work.  The grey, rectangular bit to the right is a whetstone, used then as now to sharpen metal tools.

A worked bit of stone.  Perhaps a gaming counter, but more likely a pot lid.

A nice bit of pottery.  Probably from a type of vessel that often featured a stylized face on the front.

Roman bling #1.  A small pendant with traces of enamel inset.  Evidence of women being present on the site?  But we know so little of the customs of the day, maybe men went in for ornamentation too.

Roman bling #2.  Romans did not have buttons.  So they held their clothes together with various pins.  This was a penannular brooch.  Usually the actual pin has corroded away in finds found in upper levels.

Roman bling #3.  Another brooch, one in the "bow fibular" style.  Contemporary coin for scale.  The pin would have gone across the gap in an arrangement similar to the tibia and fibula bones of the human leg...hence the name!

Wishing for spring, with warmth, sunshine and pints of ale..

No comments: