Tuesday 30 June 2015

Binchester 2015: Days 20-21

Apologies for getting a little behind with the blog posts. It's been a hectic couple of days and I've barely had a chance to sit in front of a computer since Friday. Anyway, we've had two very constructive days, facilitated by the wonderful weather- it's starting to warm up now!

In Trench 1, we've moved nearly everyone into the barrack block to blitz the final internal features. There are still drainage slots and post-holes appearing; the number of the post-hole voids in particular continue to multiply. Particular developments include the discovery that one layer of external road surface appears to run across and into the barracks area- for the first time, we've been able to securely stratigraphically link the barrack with an external surface. In the south-west corner, we've welcomed our long-term volunteer Jonathan back- he's been cleaning a strip across the very southern end of the trench and appears to have found something that looks like it could be natural. We've also gone back to beavering away in the small section of structure to the west of the north end of the barrack. We've clearly got several levels of stone walling and traces of what looks like a floor surface which had been partly removed in the past. Yesterday a chunk of possible Rhineland lava, probably from a quern, was found wedged into the foundations of one of the walls.

In Trench 2, inside the bath-house there has been lots of recording, with Darren bravely tackling a sheaf of context sheets in the corridor. Meanwhile, next door in the changing room, Sue and Karen have been looking at the section excavated through one of the culverts. They have removed the lining stones and shown even earlier potential surfaces. The construction of the plunge bath can also be seen- the foundations of its walls go down quite some way; certainly deeper than the level of the op sig floor.

In the area to the south of the bath-house, Michael, John and Morris have been continuing with their section through the dark deposits- lots of evidence for burning, but they have come down onto a compact gravel floor. This work has also exposed a possible flue-hole in the external face of the wall, presumably connected in some way to the flue on the inside of the same wall. This section produced one of the nicest of our recent finds- the handle of a copper alloy pan/skillet - another cracking discovery from Michael.

In our metalworking area, Stephen and Laura have been making great strides, unpicking what may be an oven structure (it certainly contains a lot of burnt material with masses of copper alloy splashes), more crucible fragments are emerging, and yesterday Laura found a beautiful, intact lidded crucible.

Finally, Michelle, Jacqui and the others have been making great inroads into unpicking the layers of cobbled surface along the west side of the bath-house. Not the most exciting task, particularly in this heat but crucial for working out the sequence of activity in this area.

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