Wednesday 5 August 2009

Binchester day Forty-three

At last, I'm back on site. After a week off, which at one point found me at the top end of Dere Street at Newstead I've come back on site. Although the previous blog posts have kept me up to date with progress its good to see developments on the ground. The most obvious development was the final identification of the end wall of the barrack It had clearly undergone a number of constructional phases; there appears to be an entrance with a possible slot for a sill beam. This is then seemingly blocked and another entrance constructed in the north-east corner of the gable-end wall. This may relate to some of the latest activity within the building.

The large post-medieval pit has been almost completely excavated, although there is still work going on defining its precise edges. This clearly cuts through a barrack wall, though although some of the stone is robbed out, it does not appear to have been a robber trench, as a number of foundation stones are still visible. Nearby, when the baulk of the adjacent medieval feature was removed, it became apparent that it had concealed a large gully that clearly cut straight through the wall of the barrack. Outside the barrack the same gully had been hidden by another section of balk. This is an excellent example of how the unluck placement of a baulk can hide quite an important feature! It was only by pure chance that it was revealed.

A sondage against the southern wall of the medieval building has gone down about a meter before hitting the next layer (notably not natural). This is important as it gives us a good idea of the sheer depth of stratigraphy which we can expect in future seasons- an exciting prospect.

Around the edge of the site, the walls of the corner tower are clear (despite Steer's slot through the middle of it in the 1930s). More features are appearing in the metalling of the roadway, and a large cobbled/stone ridge appears to be sitting on top of the road. Unlike the other similar feature on site, this has produced only Roman material

Inevitably, as Season One draws towards its conclusion (last day on Friday), we are winding down now. The focus is primarily on recording rather than excavation, so there is plenty of final planning, section drawing, context sheet filling and photography going on. We also had a visit from Natasha Millburn, a student from Northumbria University, who is doing some geochemical investigation on the site as part of her undergraduate dissertation. We look forward to seeing the results of her research.

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