Excavation blog update for excavation periods III & IV
Welcome back to the Vindolanda excavation blog, we are now in the middle of excavation period IV and almost eight weeks into what is a 23 weeks’ season of work. Along the way we have met some smashing people, both on the excavations and at the fence: thanks to everyone for their hard work and support.
The last two teams have had a wealth of experience between them and despite the continuation of variable weather such as thunder, torrential rain and hail (see the picture below of dark clouds gathering above Vindolanda) spirits are high and the vicus excavations have re-opened for the season.
Storm clouds gather above Vindolanda and the Wall
Inside the fort the effort has been focused on uncovering the west side of the 4th century via decumana, in order to expose the original road level of the street as it was laid in c AD213. Although tough work, the team have managed to do this extremely well and found many fine artefacts along the way. These include a complete finger ring with a jet stone, knives, a rather lovely bone spindle whorl, 30 or so pot lids and a great deal of bashed 4th century pottery. The structures surrounding the road have started to become more clearly defined, the experience of walking down a road rather than in field of rubble has changed this area completely.
The period III team
Picture of the finger ring
Work has continued to take place linking the top of the street to the back of the headquarters building: in a few months visitors to the site will be able to experience for themselves what it feels like to walk along the back of the Headquarters building, straight onto the last Roman street level. A walk no one has been able to take for almost 1600 years.
Excavating the via decumana
A very small knife blade dropped on to surface of the via decumana
Below the extramural settlement, or vicus, the team has assembled to pump out the thousands of gallons of water that filled the trenches during the winter. The weeds have been cleared out and work continues here down into the pre-Hadrianic forts. It is extremely dirty and wet work but it has its rewards. Some of last year’s trenches, which are now completed, will be immediately backfilled and the barracks, possible Headquarters building, workshops and fingers crossed, toilet from the previous season (we only found the seat, the loo itself is missing in action at the moment) will reveal themselves. Last season’s work produced 19 of the famous Vindolanda writing tablets. It is very likely that this number will be added to, as well as the number of other remarkable artefacts which survive in almost perfect condition due to the oxygen free organic preservation at these levels. The first shoe of 2015 has been recovered already and the count will doubtless reach the hundreds by the end of the summer.
The vicus excavations
The first shoe of 2015