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

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