Monday, 22 November 2010

New light on the end of Roman Binchester

We're working away on the post-excavation phase of this year's fieldwork, and some interesting fragments of metalwork are coming up which shed light on the important transition from late Roman into the early medieval. Dr Rob Collins (Portable Antiquity Scheme), our finds advisor writes

"Two objects found in the 2010 excavation at Binchester have been tentatively identified as belonging to occupation of the site in the 5th century. The ring-headed pin (top photo)was an object of the Scottish Iron Age that continued to develop and see use into the Early Medieval period. The example found at Binchester is of a simple form, cast integral, and does not display any of the more elaborate decoration of the handpins more commonly dated to the Early Medieval period. The form of the Binchester pin may date to the Roman period, but ring-headed pins are not commonly found at Roman fort sites.

The second object can be more confidently dated to the 5th century. This is the terminal fragment of a Fowler class E penannular brooch (Bottom photo). The terminal itself is a stylized zoomorphic head, and the hoop of the brooch is decorated with moulded rings. In the northern frontier, these appear in the last quarter of the 4th century at the earliest and found at a number of Roman fort sites, notably those with known stratigraphic sequences dating to the 5th century."

The ring-headed pin was found in Trench 2 in the vicus, frustratingly, however, it came from the post-medieval linear that cut across the site and is thus out of context. The brooch fragment was found in Trench 1 in a rubble spread that lay between the barrack structure and the rampart.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

The Beautiful Rooms are Empty

We are pleased to report that the full excavation report from the important campaign of work carried out at Binchester in the late 1970s and 1980s by Iain Ferris and Rik Jones is now available. This splendid two-volume publication includes full analysis of these excavations as well as substantial wider contextual material about the fort and the history of research there. This is going to be essential reading for those interested in the fort (including ourselves) and will certainly help redefine our research priorities in future seasons. The report is available from Durham County Council for £35 + £8 p+p.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Aerial-cam shots of Binchester

I've not yet had a chance to post some of the fantastic vertical and oblique shots taken of the site in September by Adam from Aerial-Cam. Using a digital camera on an extendable low mast attached to a Land Rover, he is able to take what are essentially low-level aerial photos. This has given us some excellent shots of Trench 1 (the fort) and Trench 2 (the vicus).