Greetings blog watchers and welcome to the 2010 excavation season at Caistor Roman Town in Norfolk. That’s Norfolk UK, rather than Norfolk Virginia for our US audience by the way. Let me tell you that it’s going to be pretty exciting. This is the first time in 75 years that anyone will have dug in the walled area at the Roman town of Venta Icenorum. If you want to know about the Roman town by the way, please go to http://www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/venta. You can also find out about last year’s dig by going to http://caistor2009.wordpress.com/
Those of you who followed the previous excavation season may recall that we made the cardinal error of digging some features that showed on the geophysics. The geophysics showed some nice circular things that we naturally assumed to be prehistoric ring ditches. Unfortunately they turned out to be glacial features. Although this was Very Interesting it wasn’t quite what we wanted, although we did find some excellent Roman deviant burials (shamelessly milked for media purposes). This year, having wholly failed to learn from these previous errors, we will be again attempting to uncover the (probable) Iron Age origins of the site by targeting geophysical features in the north of the walled town. One of these (another large circular thing) appears to be cut by one of the Roman streets. Following some extreme number crunching of geophysical data by Dr Bescoby we’re sort of confident that this will not prove to be geological in origin. Although if it is we will, of course, blame the geophysics.
We will also being digging a section through one of the Roman streets in order to establish when the street grid was actually laid out. Roman streets are often repeatedly resurfaced, and material included within the resurfacing (pottery etc) can be used to date when this happened. The lowest level of resurfacing will contain the earliest material and hopefully this will tell us when the street grid was laid out. Most people think it happened shortly after the rebellion of Boudica in AD 60/61, although the evidence for this is pretty tenuous. It is an idea that has its roots in the view that Rome “civilized” the Iceni tribe after the rebellion, or alternatively were really beastly to them. Both of these views, as the project director will tell you ad nauseum, are colonialist constructs that we must avoid repeating at all costs.
Anyway, onto more important stuff. Following last year’s successful merchandising campaigns in which a large number of plastic swords and gladiator key-rings were snapped up by a discerning public, we have expanded the range of Roman themed product to include Veni Vidi Vici pencils (with Caesars’s head), some siege engine pencil sharpeners and loads of other stuff. Dr Bescoby will be keeping us up to date with sales with some informative (and possibly wholly fictitious) graphs and pie charts. This year’s T shirts are also splendid. Buy, buy, buy kids. Last but not least we have Time Team with us this year (making a documentary rather than digging furiously for 3 days). The project director is obviously hoping to forge a career in TV in case digging up glacial circles doesn’t work out in the long term.