Friday, May 16, 2014

Vindolanda 2014 Day Ten and Last

Our last day had decent weather and a long delayed victory over the water that had been seeping into our trench all week.  It is amazing how much lighter a wheel barrow is when it is full of light crumbly wood and bracken as opposed to soupy mud.  Spirits were high as we hit our last day of excavating.

Over on the adjacent trench some useful artifacts turned up including a very encrusted coin that should eventually give us confirmation of our dating.  We are "around" the time of Emperor Hadrian.  In fact he quite probably visited the site in association with the construction of "Hadrian's Wall".  It is not too far fetched to imagine him strolling down the road surface we are working on, it seems to have been one of the priniciple roads of the early fort.

Sometimes road surfaces can be great for small finds, but on this occasion....not so much. Perhaps being this close to (we think) the headquarters building there was thorough policing of the place.  So we dug down through layers of cobbling and foundation rubble interspersed with bands of compressed sticks and wood.

Here is some 1800 year old heather.  It still smells faintly of fresh cut peat.

Another shoe, this one a better specimen.

Nice horse skull.  Given the number of cavalry stationed here we really should find horse remains often.  We do not.  This has been puzzling and raises questions.  Was there a special horse graveyard somewhere?  Was there some prohibition to eating them?  The latter seems odd, the Romans appear to have eaten most every other critter.  We had cow, pig and dog bones turn up in recent days.

Here is a nice bit of samian wear bowl.  It is similar in pattern to a bit I found two days ago.  Perhaps from the same vessel.

Here is the top of some kind of wooden structure.  It might be a fence.  It might not be.

It was a relaxed end to a fun two weeks.  As our assignment was primarily to define structures we were not seized by the customary "Friday Frenzy" as diggers trowel like mad trying to find some shiny bauble that had thus far eluded them.  We just worked on methodically, then stood back to admire the remarkable amount of soil we had shifted.

Another year.  Another bunch of excavators, many of them old friends by now.

Farewell to the fort by Hadrian's Wall.  And farewell to the Twice Brewed Inn, my home away from home.  May your creaky, off center architecture, your appalling pub quiz and your breakfasts full of fried food served with sarcasm never change!

Post Script:  Fairness demands that I post a link to MooseandHobbes whose summary of the two weeks of digging and shenanigans is much superior to mine.


Justinian-T said...

TW- somehow managed to miss your blog until today. Just finished reading them in order, thanks for fighting the end-of-day tiredness and posting. I'm hoping to follow you in getting a shot at the vicus trenches in session 7, although there seems to be lots going on in the fort as well.


Tacitus2 said...


Bring or acquire Wellies for sure.

Being picked to get "down and dirty" seems to be an amalgam of experience, group chemistry, fitness and a willingness to put Features over Finds. I don't know if offering to bench press Kate/Andy until they agree to pick you would help.

But it might not hurt.


Justinian-T said...

Good advice, surely (the wellies, not the bench pressing :-) ).

All three areas look to be unusually interesting/exciting this year so I'm not going to be too concerned when Andy reads out the names/places in the conference room.

The more difficult issue might be whether or not Sean (my son) and I will be in the same trench - I don't think he will be seen as having the experience to be among the anaerobic layers in the vicus (this will be my 4th time, so hopefully I do!), so if I do end up there he most likely would be in fort or field. But that might not be a bad thing.

Tacitus2 said...

Yes, depends on whether the rest of the group is congenial. some of the students of summer tend to be a little clannish I am told. Friend Pete does not speak highly of the North trench but maybe this is The Year out there. And the other two locations are tasty.