Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Io Saturnalia!

From one set of Roman Baths (in York) to another set in Ravenglass! Season's Greetings! In 2015, there'll be a number of blogs concerning the finds from last season, as well as the overall results.  Also, if you have any photos from the dig, sort out the best and await further instructions ...

Io Saturnalia, from Kurt, Sandra and the rest of VIth legion of Eboracum.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Conference: Hadrian's Wall Archaeology Forum 22nd November, full programme details!


The Queen’s Hall, Hexham

Saturday 22nd November 2014 9:45 am – 4:30pm


Morning Session

9.30 - 9.45 Delegates arrive.

9.45 - 9.50 Introduction and Welcome

Dr David Mason,

9.50 - 10.35 The discovery of the Roman baths at Wallsend and other results

from the WallQuest community archaeology project.

Dr Nick Hodgson, Tyne & Wear Archaeology.

10.40 – 11.25 Vindolanda: An update on the Frontiers in Transition Project

Dr Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Trust.

11.30 – 11.50 Refreshments

11.50 – 12.40 Binchester Excavations, Season 6, 2014.

Dr David Mason, Principal Archaeologist, Durham County Council

12.40 - 2.00 Lunch. (Own arrangements. Plenty of cafes nearby).

2.00 - 2.45 The Maryport Roman Settlement Project

Steve Rowland, Oxford Archaeology North.

2.45 – 3.30 Romans in Ravenglass

Kurt Hunter-Mann, York Archaeological Trust

3.30 – 3.50 Refreshments

3.50 – 4.20 Recent Excavation at Survey at Greta Bridge

Dr David Mason

Chairman’s concluding remarks and close of meeting.

Details of how to book are on the previous blog.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Conference: Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum, 22nd November 2014

 "Hadrianswall2007" by Michael Hanselmann - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons 

Director Kurt will be talking about Ravenglass at the Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum on 22nd November in Hexham.  Also included are lectures about: Vindolanda, Maryport, Papcastle, Wallsend and Binchester. For details of how to book follow this link.

Edit November 2015: If you are looking for information about the Hadrian's Wall Forum meeting 2015 click here
Vindolanda, Maryport, Papcastle, Ravenglass, Wallsend and Binchester - See more at: http://www.queenshall.co.uk/whats-on/seasons-diary/948#sthash.GMyG1DV9.dpuf
Vindolanda, Maryport, Papcastle, Ravenglass, Wallsend and Binchester - See more at: http://www.queenshall.co.uk/whats-on/seasons-diary/948#sthash.GMyG1DV9.dpuf
Vindolanda, Maryport, Papcastle, Ravenglass, Wallsend and Binchester - See more at: http://www.queenshall.co.uk/whats-on/seasons-diary/948#sthash.GMyG1DV9.dpuf
Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Broadcast: Wonderwall - Site Director talks to BBC Radio York about Ravenglass

On 4th November, around lunchtime, Director Kurt went to talk to BBC Radio York about the Ravenglass dig. On a monthly basis, broadcaster Elly Fiorentini invites a local archaeologist in to talk about what they're digging. Usually it's about a York site, which made Ravenglass up in Cumbria  positively exotic!  So that York actually gets a look in, you'll hear Elly mention one of Kurt's more notorious previous sites, Dalton Terrace - the one with the headless Romans.

To hear the programme, follow this link, then use the slider to go to 02.39 into the three hour recording. It can be a fiddle, but if you hear Wonderwall by Oasis, you'll be very close - presumably Elly chose that song as a veiled reference to Hadrian's Wall!

The interview was actually broadcast at around 6.35pm, so the interview was edited.  However, generally, Kurt was pleased with what they chose to broadcast.

Please note: the programme will only be up for a week (in fact six days by the time this blog was posted), so you'll need to listen very soon.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Report: Focus on the Finds Hut

Whilst the diggers worked hard excavating trenches, the finds team grappled with the mass outbreak of slag this season, as well as the other various categories of finds.  The slag all needed to be dried out, weighed and bagged up.  Leo was instrumental in getting this done:

Leo weighs lots and lots of slag ...

Meanwhile, Rosalie and Janice worked on sorting out the trays (and sometimes buckets!) from the previous day.
 Janice and Rosalie sorting the slag before its laid out to dry

In between all that, they would supervise the washing of the bulk finds.
Rosalie and finds washers sheltering from the sun!
When they'd finished the initial sorting, they moved onto small finding items.  This involved giving small finded items a unique number and taking appropriate measurements. The finds would then need to be packaged and stored.

The Small Finds book

This year, due to the pottery actually drying, we even did a little bit of pottery marking!  This involves painting the pottery sherds with a line of Paraloid B-72, which is a clear acrylic resin. When it's dry, we can then mark the pottery with its context number in permanent ink. When that's dry, we then paint another layer of Paraloid B-72 over it. 

Janice marking the pottery - small, clear and neat handwriting is mandatory for marking!

When the finds are fully processed they can then be boxed up ready for removal from site. We stopped washing finds on the last Saturday, so we could concentrate on bagging up as much as possible.

On the last couple of days, whilst the trenches were being backfilled, Brian K finished up the packing of the finds and the finds hut due to the absence of Finds Officer - she is very grateful for him being able to step in and take charge at the very last moment.

The finds are now resident in York for the moment waiting for the processing to be fully completed and then they'll be dispersed to the various specialists.  The clear boxes are for small finds, and the other white tubs are normally (for Ravenglass at least) the slag.

The Ravenglass small finds - and some slag

More finds boxes awaiting their fate, along with some ... more slag!

My next blog will focus on some of the finds highlights from this year's season.

Sandra Garside-Neville, Finds Officer, Romans in Ravenglass

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Event: Lake District Annual Archaeology Conference, November 2nd 2014

 Event details

  • Date: Sunday 2 November 2014
  • Location: The Theatre by the Lake, Keswick
  • Cost: £13 (with tea/coffee), £19.25 (with tea/coffee and lunch). Parking vouchers cost an additional £2.00.
  • How to book: fill out the conference booking slip (PDF) and post it back to us at LDNPA, Murley Moss, Oxenholme Road, Kendal, LA9 7RL or call us on 01539 724 555 with your debit or credit card details
The conference covers various Lake District projects, and at around 2pm, Lisa Keys from Minerva Heritage will be speaking about her input into the project and the Romans in Ravenglass Outreach Programme 2013-15. We hope in the following year to have Kurt Hunter-Mann from York Archaeological Trust who will be summing up the results from the two seasons of excavation.

For full details of the programme see here

Friday, 10 October 2014

Comment: Ravenglass mentioned in British Archaeology magazine

The coastal erosion of the Roman fort at Ravenglass gets a mention (and a photograph) in the current issue of Council for British Archaeology's magazine British Archaeology.  The full reference is:

Waddington, Clive, 2014 'Battling the Waves' British Archaeology, November-December, pp34-39

Ravenglass appears on page 37:

'... Roman remains have long been known to be eroding from the English shoreline, with current examples including the fort at Ravenglass, Cumbria, where the west side of the fort is collapsing down a steep, unstable soft cliff into the estuary of the Esk ...'

Waddington's work, called the North East & North West Rapid Coastal Zone Assessment was funded by English Heritage. The views expressed in the article are his own.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Comment: Online course about Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

A friend drew my attention to a free online course, which apparently mentions Ravenglass at some point! The course is called: Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier - Explore the archaeology of the most heavily fortified frontier in the Roman Empire, its people and their lives.

The course started on 22nd September, so is now in its third week, but you can still sign up and catch up with everyone else. It is run by Newcastle University, and one James Gerrard, who came and scanned the Bath house at Ravenglass, also appears talking about pottery!

From a quick look at the first couple of weeks, besides looking at the Wall, it also considers the general background to the Roman army, and also the civilians who would have been around too.  So it's not just about Hadrian's Wall, it also serves as a great introduction to the sort of Romans who may have also been at Ravenglass.  It's well worth at look at can be found here.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Report: Excavation blog Week 4, 22nd-28th September

Yet another week of good weather, with only the occasional shower to dampen the baked ground. Digging continued as long as possible in order to resolve some remaining questions. Many finds were recovered, which will no doubt assist with the dating and interpretation of the Roman activity.

In Trench 1, investigation of the Roman road confirmed that the core comprised a number of large dumps of large stone rubble and metal-working waste. A small trial trench in the middle of the road encountered yet another layer of stone, at which point excavation ceased; the road construction layers were clearly reached a considerable depth.
Layers of road construction, with Bob B levelling
To the north, there was no evidence of a northern limit to the road, in the form of either a kerb or a roadside ditch. Instead, the cobble surface extended up to and around the side of the building. In this form, the road at this point seems to have been more of an extensive open space over 20m wide, presumably reflecting its position well within the vicus. The cobble surface adjacent to the house had been laid over a dump of metal-working waste, albeit ashier and lighter than the metal-working debris layers encountered elsewhere in the trench. The construction of the building and the uppermost road surface seems to have been one operation.
Cleaning and planning cobbling alongside the building

Immediately to the rear of the building, another trial trench encountered rubble and cobble layers and a layer of metal-working waste, the latter extending underneath the building and forming a well-drained construction layer. Again, there was no indication of the end of the sequence was going to be reached, and so excavation ceased here.
Excavating, cobbling and back wall of building

In Trench 2, excavation of the long sequence of industrial deposits on the higher ground to the south indicated the they were the result of metal-working, with examples of mould fragments found. One interesting feature was an amphora, set in a shallow cut – perhaps to contain water for quenching as part of the metal-working process?
Fragments of the amphora washed and in the finds tray; burnt base of the amphora is in the centre of the picture

At the foot of the metal-working deposits, a layer of cobbling seems to have formed the original surface upon which the metal-working deposits accumulated.
Industrial deposits in the foreground

The main discoveries in Trench 3 were to the rear of the building, where areas of burning and cobbles point to activity similar to that in Trench 2.
Planning cobbling

A tidy post-medieval stone-lined field drain was found cutting through the Roman building foundations. Investigation of this feature showed that the foundations were shallow, and rested on a thick layer of clay, which in turn overlaid another layer of clay that could have formed the original ground surface.
Field drain cutting the corner of the Roman building

By the following Tuesday, the compound had been closed down and tthe trenches had been backfilled for the final time. DX Films were there to record this; the second part of their film will cover the analysis of, and reporting on, the excavation evidence.

So a big Thank You to the volunteers for their hard work and enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to work with you!

Kurt Hunter-Mann, Site Director, Romans in Ravenglass
York Archaeological Trust

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Comment: The end of the digging season, but ...

And sheep shall safely graze

Now the sheep can roam the fields unhindered by archaeology trenches. The last digging season has finished, but there's plenty to come yet! Look out for Director Kurt's final week's digging report and Finds Officer Sandra's focus on artefacts in the next few weeks, and much, much more in the coming months.

Finds Officer, Romans in Ravenglass

Friday, 26 September 2014

Report: Excavation blog, Week 3 (17-21 September)

The continued good weather has meant we have made further good progress this week. A wide range of Roman pottery has been recovered, and slag has been found in bulk this week.
Finds drying with Janice & Alison

In Trench 1, ashy deposits were revealed within the building, but whether they were the result of domestic or industrial will depend on the evidence from the environmental sampling. Further rubble dumps to the rear of the building were encountered – no clear signs of a ground surface outside the building yet. More frustratingly, it became evident that there was a post-medieval trackway between the Roman road and the building, obscuring the relationship between the two features. Hopefully the trackway will be removed swiftly at the beginning of next week!

In Trench 2, the focus was on the low-lying, north end. The sondage at the very north end encountered a narrow channel was succeeded by a timber-lined drain, although none of the timber lining survived, pointing to water management. 

Excavating with Richard

At least two layers of well-constructed cobble surface overlaid the stream deposits to the north and the series of burnt deposits and cobble surfaces to the south, perhaps providing access to the stream from the industrial area to the south.
Burnt deposits

In Trench 3, within the building excavation of the base of an oven full of charcoal was completed and the clay floors were investigated.
Planning, mattocking and trowelling

To the rear of the building, various deposits and cobble layers were excavated, showing that there had been considerable activity inside and outside the building.
 Excavating in Trench 3

Kurt Hunter-Mann, York Archaeological Trust
Project Site Director

Event: Come along to our end of project celebration day tomorrow: Saturday 27 September

It has been a busy few weeks at Ravenglass and tomorrow marks the end of Season’s 2’s dig.  Come along to our end of project celebration day to celebrate the end of the project. You can:

• Find out what has been dug up at Ravenglass

• Meet a Roman

• Join a tour of the excavation site, on the hour at 11am, 12pm, 1pm and 2pm.

• See displays and handle real Roman artefacts

• Have a go at digging!

• Bring your finds along to be identified by the Portable Antiquities Scheme


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Report: Romans in Ravenglass Outreach Programme - Update

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Romans in Ravenglass outreach team!

What have we been up to?


We have welcomed over 100 school children from four local schools – Haverigg Primary, Ennerdale and Kinniside, Black Combe and Seascale primaries - to the site. Not only did the schools get to see and handle Roman artefacts but they also got to do a bit of digging!

Jon Kenny, Community Archaeologist from the York Archaeological Trust supervises the budding archaeologists in Trench 4.

Project volunteer Finds Assistant Rosalie McAndrew watches over the finds washing!

We’ve already had some feedback from one of the teachers: ‘Thank you to you and your enthusiastic team for the excellent day…. The children learned a lot, were inspired, and it was a great start to our Roman topic - hands on history’.

We’ve run two special open days for young people this year. The first was with the Lake District National Park’s Young Rangers and Young Champions from the MOSAIC project.

MOSAIC Young Champions learning the art of ‘levelling’.
And last weekend we ran a session with Young Archaeologists’ Club, Kendal Branch. A huge amount of fun (and a lot of learning!) was had by all.

Young Archaeologists getting their hands-on.

We hosted our first Saturday open day to coincide with the national Heritage Open Days festival. We had nearly 200 visitors to the site who either took part in a site tour, handled Roman finds, searched for buried treasure or got down on their knees to do a bit of digging. Some did all four!

Searching for ‘buried treasure’ in the sands of time!

I know I left a field drain down here somewhere!

Don’t forget to come and visit us this Saturday 27 September for our final project open day... Find out what else we have found and meet a real-life Roman ;)

Lisa Keys, Minerva Heritage Ltd
Romans in Ravenglass Outreach Coordinator