Caistor Roman Project
Temple Field 2019
Monday 2nd September
All done – today we dismantled the site with the Flying Scotsman trucking everything back to the barn and Darren the Digger filling in the trenches
Final tea break
All ready to go
Lining the trenches for next time (as if) . . .
. . . and over to Darren
“The Amazing Romano Celtic Temple Adventure 2019″
– from an idea by Sophia Ada Mottram
Producer: Mike Pinner
Director: Rhiane Keeley
Technical Advisor: Giles Emery, Norvic Archaeology
Assistant to Mr Emery: Andy Burnett
Archaeology Consultant: Professor Will Bowden
Electronic Location Services: Dr Dave Bescoby
Special Effects (Wool): Margaret Hood
Head of Lost Property: Ian Jackson
Assistant to Mr Jackson: Andy Woodman
Unit 5 Director: Tony Mortar
Assistant to Mr Mortar: Nat Harlow
Unit 6 Director: Linda Richmond
Assistant to Ms Richmond: Andy Woodman
Unit 7 Director: Wendy Shanks
Assistant to Ms Shanks: Rob Bylett
Head of Catering & Hygiene: Chrissy Sullivan
Assistant to MS Sullivan: Margaret Hood
Head of Maintenance & Horse Wrangling: Roger Burnett
Chaperone and Education: Neil Moss
OverNight Security: Tony Mortar and Nat Harlow
Heavy Machinery: Kingdom Landscapes
Local Liaison Officer: Caroline Page
Illustration & Animation: Jenny Press
On-Site PR: Mike Pinner and Andrew Ray
Off-Site PR: Val Cossey & Andy Woodman
Head Cashier: Andrew Ray
Assistant to Mr Ray: Jacquie Ratcliffe
Tour Guides & Human Herders: Mike Pinner, Rhiane Keeley, Giles Emery & Chrissy Sullivan
On-Site Entertainment: Ian Jackson & Natasha Harlow
Transportation: The Flying Scotsman
Additional Transport: Barbara Marriage, Andrew Ray, Roger Burnett, Colin Harvey and Val Cossey.
Location & Scenery Shifters:
Jenny, Owen, John, Carole, Andy, Lynda, Roger, Linda, Geoff, Caroline, Ian, Andrew, Jane G, David, Alex, Jane W, Paul, Lynda, Colin, Chris, Mick, Margaret, Barbara, Val, Helen, Sue, James
Alex, Andrew, Barbara, Cheri, Geoff, Helen, Ian, James, Jenny, Lynda, Martin, Mick, Mike, Nat, Paul, Rob, Sue, Roger, Carole, Richard, Simon, Stewart, Vicky, Steve, Caroline P, Caroline L, Robin, David S, David C, Frances G, Franz, Jane G, Jane W, Kit, Matt, Owen, Robyn, Keith, John, Tim, Val, Naomi, Jude, Rowena, Alex, Rhys, Harry, Neil, Frances B, Jacquie, Helen, Judith, Rob, Andy, Nat, Colin, Chris and Margaret.
Shot entirely on location at Caistor St Edmunds with thanks to Chris Skinner & Historic England
Day 16 – Sunday 1st September
The penultimate blog for this year with site close and final credits to follow . . . watch this space
Today is the last digging day with a reduced crew focusing on drawing, brushing, photographing, the obligatory last minute trowel fiddling . . . and, of course, entertaining hordes of visitors
For those of you who have been gamely picking up and brushing/washing/weighing the hundreds of small white and bigger terracotta tesserae from this year and last year the link below (from a recent dig in Berkshire) shows what it may well have looked like – a bit like having the top of the jigsaw box rather than random collection of pieces
Today starts, as every day does, with morning assembly and last day thanks (see credits in next blog)
Andrew warms up the audience
The crowds marvel at Trench 5 , the sartorial elegance of Nat and the expression on Rhiane’s face as she draws the sections
As Tony struggles to make sense of it all
Watching the final touches being made in Trench 6
Some lovely painted tiles with stem and leaf art clearly visible
And Chrissy buffing the walls
Rob is deep in thought in Trench 7
Before taking to the air with Wendy and their drone – looking forward to the aerial photos Rob
Whilst the sieving teams sieve on valiantly to the end
And the finds polishers are brushing – anything and everything
Last lunch on site
And a word from our sponsors . . .
Day 15 – Saturday 31st August
Pretty much the last day of digging as tomorrow will mostly be drawing and is also our last Open Day
Trench 5 is in the finishing touches – its a complicated trench but the late wall looks to have been found now
The expected pits have ended up as shallow depression full of demolition material plus lots of oyster shell (possibly farmed) and some burnt patches which have been sampled for analysis
There was no obvious sign of the Mottram trench in the SE corner but some mystery features in the south end are still being investigated sand sampled
Despite the obvious stress the Trench 5 supervisor remains strangely upbeat
Trench 6 continues to to thrill with the early Cella walls now located, the Cella floor revealed (with more first century coins and a brooch) and the area underneath the floor being investigated
We have removed part of the cobbled surface of the Ambulatory floor and explored beneath
And the Ambulatory area is also yielding a lot of fine quality painted plaster
A deep pit alongside the Portico wall was excavated – but with little exciting to report
At the end of the day we start to explore the pre-Roman layers in the Calla and find some prehistoric pottery sherds
Theres a lot more to do here tomorrow !
Trench 6 at the close of Day 15 looking East
And finally, the lonely sugar beet in the Cella that we have been tracking down since the start was finally lifted and offered by Nat to Merlin, god of all spoil-heaps . . .
. . . and added to the collection of votive offerings
Trench 7 has closed for digging and Rob has ploughed a lonely furrow today drawing his sections
The linear features identified in the geo-fizz have proven to be a pair of hollow-ways filled with rejected (for re-use) demolition material.
The trench has, however, yielded a considerable amount of Iron Age pottery and an Iron Age coin confirming pre-Roman activity in this area.
Day 14 – Friday 30th August
As we say goodbye and thanks to our students we’re really focusing on completing before the end of the dig
Trench 5 look to have bottomed out the “pit” and continue to look for the corner of the Ambulatory walls
A lovely glass bead is unearthed . . .
. . . which is celebrated in traditional fashion
In Trench 6 Matt uncovers the early Cella floor which sees the light of day after some 1900 years
More first century coins are discovered by Giles’ magic trowel – this one’s a Nerva , , ,
Judith and Jenny dig down under expert direction from bucket operative James
And its all go down by the Portico wall
Rob celebrates now that Trench 7 has completed digging, complete with an Iron Age coin – just the profiles to draw now
Our students learn to appreciate the joys of planning
Ooooh, it’s yet another round metallic thing . . .
Will hosts a visit from the Southall Community Archaeological Group from Nottinghamshire
Team Opus Mixus win the after work Dig Quiz – for the second week running. Thanks as always to Ian for preparing and delivering a quiz that really hits a spot.
Super Mick is added to the calendar photos . . .
. . . and Rhiane is outed in the knitted trench – perhaps its the hair ! !
Day 13 – Thursday 29th August
The end of the excavation is looming ever closer and we are working hard to get the digging and drawing completed
Don’t forget that this Sunday is the last Open Day with tours at 11.00 and 14.00.
Friends and family are all invited to attend and swell Andrew’s buckets.
Trench 5 has today been hiring child labour in a rash attempt to get the work completed in time
Nat and Mick puzzle over over an unexplained feature
Its been a super small finds day in Trench 6 with a series of treasures emerging as we dig down to early walls and floor levels in the Calla
With more help from Robyn
Several first century coins in good condition are found in key locations . . .
. . . and a fabulous first century brooch is found beneath the temple
There’s some early morning excitement in Trench 7 as the team meet an overnight visitor – Wendy released him in the nearly woods
Afterwards it was back to cleaning down to the natural geology, section drawing . . .
. . . and unearthing yet more sherds of Iron Age pottery
Lunchtime entertainment was provided by an air force display of B2 Stealth bombers escorted by jet fighters followed by Ian’s world famous small finds “Show & Tell”
Chrissy and Margaret escape from the finds tent to inspect the trenches
Giles and Andrew give a tour to Caroline from NAT
And the heat gets to Martin
Vote for Mister August 2019 – UPDATED
Wendy has begun work on next years CRP calendar.
Time to vote for your very own favourite grubby herbert
Day 12 – Wednesday 28th August
A busy day today with lots of material shifted to keep the sievers busy and a welcome respite from the scorching heat of the previous days.
The archaeological story is now beginning to piece together and its going to be an even busier few days as we enter the last stretch
Today in Trench 5 the team have been scratching their collective heads as they search for the early ambulatory wall (possibly partly under the later wall in the trench)
Proving this is a focus for tomorrow.
The “pit” in the north-easy corner of Trench 5 is proving thus far to be more of a shallow depression
Trench 6 has continued to explore the areas between the later temple walls and exposing the walls from the earlier temple phase
It now looks like the walls of the earlier temple have cut through the early floor levels possibly suggesting and even earlier phase which will be investigated further tomorrow
Lynda looks pensive as she considers her next move . . .
A Nero coin dated to AD 64 to 68 was found in the area of flooring associated with the early temple ambulatory area and an Iron Age coin was found within the area associated with the early Cella – so it looks look we’re on the tight track !
A combination of excavation techniques are being deployed as we dig down within the Cella area with the wall of the earlier Cellar structure now being exposed
A scenic view of all 3 walls in Trench 6 at the close of the day
Whilst in Trench 7 the downward trajectory continues with yet more Iron Age pottery unearthed.
A “feather” style “votive offering” was recovered from Trench 7 today (manicure opportunity for Ian?) . . .
. . . as well as a piece of imported, high quality dressed stone which Rob doesn’t want the blog to fuel speculation by suggesting it might be part of a statue plinth
The focus in Trench 7 will now shift onto the second linear feature identified from the geo-fizz which looks likely to be another hollow-way filled with building material
Today Will took the opportunity to take our students on a guided tour of the Roman town . . .
. . . leaving them spellbound – or perhaps just confused
Tim Dennis returned with his drone at lunchtime to take some more aerial photos
Visitors today included Carley Hilts from “Current Archaeology” magazine, Edmund Perry from Norfolk Archaeology, Natasha Hutchinson from NAT, John Mitchell from the UEA, David Gurney and David Read – the last surviving member of the 1957 excavation team.
Alan Pask also brought along some of his contacts who were very interested in what we have been doing and might even offer some future sponsorship options
The day on site ended (apart from the intrepid campers) with an entertaining illustrated talk from our very own Dr Nat Harlow on “Boudicca – Fact or Fiction”. Thanks Nat.
Day 11 – Tuesday 27th August
It’s Day 11 and we are nearing the end of our dig time, given the need to leave time for drawing and recording, before we close on Sunday and backfill on Monday
Today Trench 5 – have been digging around the foundations of the robbed out Ambulatory Wall . . .
. . . and further investigating the pit(s) to the north of the trench – revealing a fabulous twisted Copper-Alloy necklace/torque.
The story of Trench 6 is proving to be of a first phase (early) temple which was subsequently flattened and a larger, more impressive temple constructed on top.
The CRM rubble, mortar, op-sig, etc. that has to date been found around and between the extant walls of the later temple is largely resulting from the demolition of the earlier building.
Work today has been focusing on further exploring around the wall of the early temple discovered yesterday and also picking up some evidence of the the floor layer . . .
. . . exploring the area to the east of the portico wall and finding a deliberately damaged copper-alloy twisted necklace/torque (spookily similar to the find discovered today in T5) . . .
. . .and clearing out the remainder of on of the 1957 Miss Mottram trenches.
Right at the end of the day while examining the potential floor area within the Cella of the early temple an early (first/second century) coin was found in situ.
More details tomorrow.
Trench 7 – have continued the recording process and removing the demolition rubble / sandy soil and have discovered yet more Iron Age pottery.
We also had a string of visitors being shown round today including:
- Will Fletcher from Historic England
- Councillor Spence from South Norfolk Council
- James Albone from NCC Historic & Environment Service
- Adrian Marsden from Norfolk Museum Service
- Peter Wade-Martin, ex chair of Norfolk Archaeology Trust
Day 10 – Monday 26th August
Another scorcher – the hottest August Bank Holiday on record
Highlight of the day was in Trench 6 near the end of the day where we succeeded in finding one of the walls from the earlier temple
It was many hands in T6 today
Trench 5 started to dig into the suspected pits area in the north end – pulling out lots of CBM.
The number of small finds continue to be very low overall but T5 did turn up a lovely gaming counter today
Trench 7 carried on removing the areas of demolition masonry rubble and have also sank some test sondages which together have yielded 4 pieces of Iron Age pottery thus far
At lunchtime the teams scattered to find some shade
And the EDP this morning carried another full-page spread on the dig
DAY 9 – Sunday 25th August
And they’re off . . . its the first of our open days and we have over 200 visitors over the 2 guided tours
Mike cheerfully awaits the deluge
But is unable to stem the tide and Giles moves in to help
Our guests leave us very glowing feedback that we can use to help with future funding applications – and some much appreciated donations
Six students from the UEA have joined us today for the week – welcome guys
Trench 5 continues to head for the centre of the earth and is has also started to explore the pits in the NE corner of the trench
Trench 6 continues to explore between the later temple walls and have started to look for walls associated with earlier phase(s). The handle of a key is a T6 find today
Trench 7 continue to clear the demolition deposits – buoyed by the discovery of a coin
Frozen Ice -Pops arrive at lunchtime – thanks Chrissy – the concentrated intake of E numbers really makes a difference
DAY 8 – Saturday 24th August
Another scorching day – very tough out in the sun with plenty of sunscreen and water breaks needed
The sieving teams are now slaving away under shelter from the sun
Trench 5 have been chasing down robber trenches and have called for longer arms – sadly, Andrew is unable to source longer arms from Homebase.
Consolation arrives in the discovery of a fine and newer complete Roman iron key and some painted plaster
Trench 6 continue to plan, photograph & dig down between the walls
Trench 7 have begun to remove the masonry from the sandy layers
We have a visit from the Fen Edge Archaeological Group after their tour of the Roman town
DAY 7 – Friday 23rd August
Its super scorchio today, with hotter weather to come over the bank holiday weekend, compounded by abject misery in the Test Match
CRP Chairman Alan Pask vists the site at morning break bringing ice cream and ice lollies for all.
Trench 5 have completed their bout of planning (for now) and have dug deeper in the south end of the trench with some joy in the wall search – photos tomorrow
In Trench 6 the photography and planning runs in parallel with further investigations around and in between the walls
Trench 7 started the day in mattock mode and have been lifting serious amounts on material as they drive down through the demolition deposits
. . . with some precision being applied to the corners and the sides
Its hot hot hot in the marquee as well so we open the side panel to get a through breeze – and a fine view
Its also hard work in this heat slaving away on the Trench 5 sieving tables . . .
Lunchtime and its Stewart’s birthday
While some choose to dine in the shade
After a couple of blank days in the small finds department Matt in Trench 6 unearths a fine coin at the close of play
The day finishes with a dig quiz, nibbles & raffle (thanks to Ian & Margaret and raffle contributors)
Healthy option raffle prizes – including the much sought after Bison Grass Polish vodka
DAY 6 – Thursday 22nd August
The team in Trench 5 have been drawing for much of the day and also valiantly hunting down the walls of various phases as indicated by the radar survey. Going further down tomorrow is hoped to shed some light.
Linda’s team in Trench 6 are continuing to decend in the spaces between the walls currently visible to identify other phases of development of the temple building(s)
But the hoped for pit in the south-east corner proves to be a shallow deposit of rubble – albeit high quality rubble.
In Trench 7 Wendy and Rob are are opening up further layers of demolition material revealing and demonstrating their usual high standard of stratification in the trench profiles
After some debate . . .
At morning assembly Chrissy awards the entire team a gold medal for a consistently tidy tool shed
Tim Dennis spends the day with us extending the ground penetrating radar survey in the lower field with “where’s he gone now” Geoff
Whilst every day Chrissy and team are hard at work processing the finds (mostly CBM at the moment) in the marquee.
DAY 5 – Wednesday 21st August
Trench 7 is today’s featured trench. The trench is sited just south of the ambulatory wall to investigate 2 linear features showing on the geofiz.
Although one of the features has yet to be investigated in detail the other comprises a solid 80% CBM and mortar – seemingly, at this stage, either dumped or reused demolition material. Trench 7 finds thus far have also included grey-ware, poppy-ware, shell and bone
Trench 7 team greet the start of day 5 in their traditional fashion.
Serious amounts of masonry emerge from Trench 7 by the end of Day 5.
Trench 5 remains infuriating according to trench management with rock-hard soil and lots of confusing plough scarring.
The team are currently looking for the return wall on the NW corner of the ambulatory wall (which seems to be missing) and the expected rubbish pit in the north east corner of the trench.
Trench 6 continues to investigate the areas between the 3 walls and inside the Cella area
‘Criss-cross’ pattern of plough scars is showing clearly
The deposit / pit of demolition material in SE corner of T6 has now been defined.
Find of the day today is a pre-conquest / early roman brooch – pretty much complete other than the pin – found late in the day by super Dave in T6. Photo tomorrow.
Some painted plaster from Trench 5
Some Stamped Samian pottery – and dodgy fingernails
The rogue sugar beet continues holds it own deep down within the Cella in Trench 6
A fabulous knitted (by Margaret) trench arrives in the marquee today.
Many of you will be able to spot their favourite wooly digger.
Thanks to Will the team at Fishbourne have now taken up the challenge to go one better. Watch this space!!
And time for a lunchtime power-nap for some
DAY 4 – Tuesday 20th August
Another fine day weatherwise with good progress on all 3 trenches as we move from plough soil into some real archaeology
The 3 walls in Trench 6, Cella Wall, Ambulatory Wall and (currently called) Portico Wall as at this morning
Rhiane planning in Trench 5 before stripping off another layer
Martin planning on an ever decreasing bucket in Trench 7
And Will practices his still life drawing skills
Linda catches up on paperwork in her office
Giles demonstrates use of a ruler to Rhiane and Linda
Andy points out the (his) statue niche in Trench 6
. . . and Ian scales new height in search of that perfect shot
Cherie coyly shows off the fine pottery find from her first afternoon with a trowel
And on the subject of finds . . . a very fine and near complete Saxon hinged brooch that missed the blog from Day 1
. . . and a segment of column base (think of Trivial Pursuit and cheese wedges) from Trench 6 today
And finally . . .
. . . we had a lunchtime drone visit – very much looking forward to see those pictures
. . . Boudicca and babes visit the tent -something about those eyebrows Margaret ??
. . . and the cake options start to get serious.
DAY 3 – Monday 19th August
A full complement of diggers and support teams after the weekend means good progress continues to be made and although its still early days the features are closer to the surface than initially expected,
But its tough digging conditions again today and the new hand mattocks are out in force
Its all hands to the walls in Trench 6
But still some time to enjoy the Norfolk sunshine
Heavy rainfall means its wet playtime at lunch and a crowded marquee
Today we had a full page spread in the regional press – complete with stock footage of Will with skeleton and a youthful looking Mike
Rain finally stops play a few minutes early – in time for a Norvic Archaeology family visit
DAY 2 – Sunday 18th August
Stripping off the plough soil level in Trench 5 begins to reveal signs of Miss Mottram’s excavations and the corner of the ambulatory wall
Synchronsed trowelling in Trench 6 gives a good view of all 3 walls.
And a cache of baby tesserae is uncovered in Trench 7
But the ground is rock hard and Andrew pops out to Homebase for more hand mattocks
DAY 1 – Saturday 17th August
Team briefings before a trowel is raised in anger …
Erecting the god of all spoil heaps
And then getting down to it – or going to see Norwich stuff Newcastle at Carrow Road
Week Zero was, as usual, busy with all of the site set up activities
Installing the electric fence to keep the horses off the site – manfully, albeit painfully, tested by the team!!
Although shutting the gate afterwards does help
Setting up the marquee
Loading the tools from the barn
Filling the water bowser
And, finally, marking up and opening the trenches
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