Tuesday 17 June 2014

Binchester 2014: Day Seven

Another good day- lots of earth being moved! Trench 1 saw work cleaning up and trowelling down in our slot which has picked up the fort wall in the eastern rampart. There are clearly several courses surviving internally- we may also be picking up features dug into the internal rampart area, although we will have to see whether these survive a vigorous trowelling. In the corner tower, the area is looking very nice; sad that the facing stones are gone, but otherwise looking good. Our stretch of wall associated with the bread oven on our north rampart was cleaned up and photographed. To the west side of the barrack block the nice metalled cobble surface continues to be revealed. Within the barrack, we are mainly coming down onto a clayey floor surface, although there is still overlying material to come off in places. Our hearths are on plinths until we can take the samples for scientific dating on Friday. Some nice finds today includes the best part of the shoe and a probably spearhead – one of the few weapons we’ve had so far.

In Trench 2, lots more earth shifting in the main room of the bath-house. It now seems that there was a small niche with slots/holes for candles? that stood above the location of the altars we removed last season. Sue and Darren have also tidied up the top of the newly revealed back wall. It shows clearly that the other back wall, which is stepped forward slightly just butts onto the new wall rather than being bonded into it, which suggests some phasing. It also looks like the new back wall turns north giving some new hints of the bath-house plan. Meanwhile, the earth is rapidly disappearing. Lots more bones! It is clear that the clay layer we encountered yesterday was just a relatively thin lens within the larger body of the dump. Our slot in the corridor is coming together, today we recovered a cattle skull and a sheep/goat skull from it. We are also plodding on with our expansion of the trench to the east to get the other side of our corridor southern annexe. Progress was slow, but is starting to move a little faster. We have also made the big (mad?) decision to push the northern edge of the trench where it cuts the bath-house back to the level of the new backwall. This will help to provide us with a little more sense of the building plan.

To the west of the bath-house, the new wall was tidied up and photographed and planning commenced. In the area where we had tentatively suggested there was another strip building, we have encountered a charcoal rich area and hints of another kiln or oven. This are is still very confusing- the oven/kiln might support our strip building hypothesis, but the nature of the single wall (its lengths and its mortar bonding ) militates against it. Still need to dig…

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