Day 11

It rains all night with the result that our new super finds container gets stuck in the entrance to the field when A Plant try to deliver it. More precisely the lorry gets stuck and has to unload our container about 600m from where we actually want it. It sits there, forlorn and unloved, much to the chagrin of Hazel who wants to fill it with boxes of Roman brick and tile as soon as possible.

Despite such an unpromising start to the day, the rain soon stops (although the lorry remains stuck for some time) and work can commence. Giles and his merry crew in Trench 2 have an excellent day, beginning the excavation of a series of mighty post-holes or pits that seem to be cut through the surface of the road. They look like they might belong to a substantial building perhaps fronting onto the remains of the road (which by this time (4th century AD ish) had been blocked by the building of the city wall). Whatever these pits are, someone must have really wanted to dig them as they had to hack through the layers of solid gravel that formed the surfaces of the Roman street. The pits/post-holes also provide a helpful window into what we might expect from excavating the road itself. It’s going to be pretty deep as there are at least two layers of surfacing, separated by a thick deposit of greeny grey silt stuff. This suggests that there was a hiatus in occupation after the road was laid out before it was resurfaced again. Very odd and we’ll need to think about that.

It’s Trench 2’s day off, and the director takes advantage of their absence to do a cheeky augur hole in the edge of the trench. The augur is a sort of big hand drill, that archaeologists use as a bit of a cheat to see how far down the natural subsoil is and what they might encounter before they get there. The director’s sneak preview of what might lie in Trench 2 is filmed by Karen and Susanna from Time Team, who are mildly alarmed at the depth of deposit to be tackled before prehistory is reached (about 50 cm), envisaging that their show will have no end to it. The director attempts to reassure them that there is plenty of time to deal with it, and indeed there seems to be two major deposits above the natural. Trench 2 in fact gives the impression that the early Roman town of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD did not really stretch as far as this area (as we found in the church trenches last year) and instead we are looking at sustained rubbish dumping on the outskirts of the town. These “outskirts” however, lie next to the principal north south road and within the walls. Roman Caistor is starting to look like quite an odd town.

Buoyed by this discovery, the director does some prancing about for the cameras. He also prances for the Eastern Daily Press who come at the prompting of Jo Miles, a friend of the project who was interviewed by the EDP following a bizarre gardening accident involving parsnip cutting and sunshine. The combination of hot sun and parsnip juice brought her out in blisters of unprecedented scale and extent, prompting the interest of the EDP who were doubtless informing their readers of the potential hazards of parsnip cultivation.

It’s another bumper day for finds with a possible shield boss and an almost definite spear coming out of Trench 2. There is evidence of much animal butchery in the region of trench 2, as we seem to be getting all the bits (heads, hooves etc) and possible evidence of bone working. All good stuff.

The day is made complete by a very nice lady who brings us a cake, because she has read about our fondness for it on this blog. Unfortunately we don’t get her name but we think she’s from Aylsham as the cake came in a bag from an Aylsham shop, marked “not to be eaten until Saturday”. So if our mysterious cake benefactor is reading this, thank you very much indeed.

Mick excavates the shield boss, for his 15 minutes of fame.

Jon C digs a lovely kiln.

Giles demonstrates his wet look, after deluge number 15.

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