Week 6 - Session 3

Vindolanda Trust - Friday, May 16, 2014
Inside the 3rd and 4th century fort:

For the past two weeks the fort team have battled with the storms and torrential rain and have finally come through to some good weather which has helped them uncover a range of buildings and artefacts. More arrowheads, weapons, lots more beads, and two possible roundhouse foundations (Severan in date) have been the highlights. A great deal of work has been done on reducing the very high levels of topsoil next to the south eastern corner of the fort to show up the ramparts and intervallum road. This will make a big visual impact to the site allowing visitors to eventually get access to the toilet block on the south eastern corner without the aid of a high viewing platform. Over the next two sessions, if the weather holds, the teams in this area aim to reach the south fort wall giving us a splendid view of this quadrant of the fort from the back of the commanding officers house all the way to the south fort wall which will be a fantastic achievement in only six months of excavation by hand.

Rampart mound of clay and rubble with the viewing platform for the toilet block being dismantled in the background.

Rubble roads everywhere, a mass of post roman streets and surfaces covering the end of Roman Vindolanda

Under the vicus:

Below the foundations of the 3rd century stone vicus the weather conditions made for especially difficult excavations. Each morning the team was faced with two large lakes instead of trenches, or a director of excavations firmly attached to a pump trying to get the water away so that work could take place. Despite this, some real steps forward have been made and it is now clear that the teams here have landed on the via principalis of the period VI/V forts, a very large cobbled street running east/west through the centre of the timber forts with a wattle and daub drain on its northern side. The first show was found lying next to the street yesterday (needless to say a woman or child's shoe) and today we will hopefully get into the roadside drain itself to see what sort of rubbish has been tipped inside. The pottery from this area is a mixture of carinated bowls and BB1 pottery, showing the transition from pre-hadrianic into the Hadrian's Wall building era on the site. We can expect some major buildings on the south side of the road as the season continues, all we need are a few weeks of no heavy rain and this area will really come alive.

Battling the mud and water at the side of the via principalis of periods VI/V.

The next trench to the east, and the road getting deeper as it terraces down the hill.

Excavation Week 4

Vindolanda Trust - Wednesday, April 30, 2014
The 3rd / 4th century fort

Excavation proceeding extremely well in the fort with over 160 artefacts recovered including many small beads made from glass and jet and some horse gear. Large late 4th century barrack walls continuing to appear as we head towards the south wall of the fort. Every now and then the excavators are bathed in warm golden sunshine and things are looking good. Over the top of the 4th century barracks are a series of later walls, floors and surfaces which can only be post-Roman and we continue to find the remains of post pits later than those, dug through the Roman layers, for timber buildings which covered this part of the site in the 5th and 6th centuries.

A great deal of late 4 century pottery is coming from the last Roman layers, but unlike last season very few arrowheads thus far. This is possibly due to the high levels of disturbance in this area from later stone robbers making it tricky to piece back together all of the clues about the use of the later Roman walls and surfaces.

Fort excavations- looking west

Vicus - earlier forts

In the vicus, below extramural buildings XXX and XXXII things are also progressing well but here we have encountered over a metre of rubble, boulder clay and a suspended water table making it extremely hard work getting to the earlier Roman remains. However, as you can see from the pictures below we have encountered a well made Antonine road and yard, complete with a wide drain running through its middle, and below this surface we have managed in one section to cut down to the earlier Hadrianic surfaces below, another street with a wattle and daub lined drain. Here most of the artefacts consist of potter and a huge volume of animal bone, beautifully preserved by the anaerobic conditions. I expect we will encounter our first wooden artefacts and leather shoes shortly. Below this level, we may have to excavate a further 2-4m before we find natural clay.

Antonine street level below the foundations of the Severan barracks of XXXII

Getting down to the Hadrianic levels - and the water - below XXXII