Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Binchester 2015: Day Eight

At about this time in every season, planning starts. So not surprisingly both trenches are currently adorned with grid lines laid out with string and measuring tape, and most of the students are hunched over planning frames. This means that not quite as much digging is going on as usual. Nonetheless, there have been a number of new developments in both trenches.


In Trench 1, the nicest surprise was the uncovering of a stone embedded in the barrack floor decorated with the crudely incised figure of a person, presumably a god. This is typical of a number of these simply drawn religious images from across the Northern frontier though to indicate military/native gods, such as Cocidius and Veteris. Ours is at the cruder end of the scale, but is one of the few examples to be found seemingly in situ.

To the north of the barrack, our strange new walls mentioned yesterday seem to be resolving themselves into a wide gulley although it's relationship with the other features nearby is unclear- and we still don't understand the curved stone setting next to it.

In the south of the barrack, there has been lots more work focusing on revealing the drains and paths probably associated with the earlier barrack. Right at the very end of the trench, one of our students, Alice, discovered a beautiful little carved bone dolphin - probably a toggle or a pendant. It has parallels with a number of broadly similar fish/dolphin pendants from northern Britain, although our is rather more finely finished than the others.


In Trench 2, the cleaning up of the floor and drains in the main changing room has shown that either the drains had a complex double cap stone system or they may be related to a slightly earlier floor surface to the compacted concrete one we've recognised covering most of the building. In the corridor, we've identified a complex series of layers near the door threshold, including possible in situ tiles, although we can only see these in section. Nearby we've also found what seems to be a flu tile still in place in the wall. Whether this is indicator of a hitherto unrecognised system of wall flues is not certain- instead it could be an isolated example perhaps related to the system of drains and culverts.




In the southern end of the corridor, we have started to hit the floor surface as we move the final wedge of late Roman dump deposit. It is clear that the flag stone floor, as elsewhere in the building, is a later addition; as we can clearly see the opus signinum from one of the small plunge baths running underneath it.















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