Friday 5 June 2015

Binchester 2015: Day Five

A lovely day on site with both trenches really humming - the students have really got into the rhythm of the excavation now which is very pleasing. In Trench 1, we are slightly out of stratigraphic order, as there is a need to keep some of the barrack wall in situ in case of future display. This means that the floor surfaces we are currently looking at are underlying much of the standing walling. We can see on the basis of the termination points of the gullies, drains and slots that the floor surface we are exploring really relates to the earlier phase of the structure before the later east wall was put in place. As noted yesterday, we are also excavating some features which may even relate to  a  putative timber barrack. On the northern side of the trench, the team who had been slogging through the cobble layers to the east of the bread oven were repaid their hard work, when they uncovered a new wall, parallel and set back from the drainage gully. This also materialised further east, near the large waterhole. It is not clear yet whether this construction is part of an earlier drainage gully or actually structural. If it is structural, what on earth is it? There is not much room for a substantial structure between it and the curtain wall. Nearby, the other teams have continued the thankless task of taking down the external layers between the latrine and the corner tower,

Meanwhile, in Trench 2, the plot thickens in the bath-house. What I thought was going to be a beautiful opus signinum floor to the plunge bath turns out to have had a dump of concrete or similar on top of it - presumably placed as part of the levelling up layer when the later flagstone floor was added. The dump is pretty solid so we're not going to hack it out. In the same area, we've found the point where one of the culverts meets the plunge-bath. We really must start thinking in more detail about the whole issue of water supply to the fortThe removal of the levelling-up layer has also produced a number of nice bone pints- in total I think we had between 7 and 10 bone pins found today, in this area and elsewhere. . In the corridor, the slow task of removing the final area of dump deposit continues in haste. It is showing that the blocking of the southern door of the corridor is far from elegant, with big random rubble blocks dumped with a rough application of mortar. One interesting discovery in this area has been some nice lumps of tufa -  a material used in other Roman bath-houses, both in Britain and elsewhere in the Empire.

In the area between the bath-house and the street we are continuing to take the layers down- it was remarkable how much window glass was found today. Morris found a distinct concentration in one area. It is possible this may have been taken from the windows of the bath-house- perhaps removed to recycle lead from the frames?

Finally, in the area to the west of the bath-house, the road surface is continuing to be removed. The crude surface appears to contain quite a lot of rubble and demolition material, including the biggest concentration of brick and tile we've found so far. Amongst this miscellaneous hardcore we have also found fragments of painted wall plaster. My current hypothesis is that this might indicate that much of this material relates to the period when the bath-house underwent its major replanning.

Slightly image low light blog today as I left my camera on site- but thanks to Alice Naylor for today's photograph - a fragment of a nice glass bracelet she found at the southern end of the barrack.

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