Welcome to the blog for the Caistor Roman Project (CRP) summer excavation at Temple Field
We will try to give you a good view of our progress, items of interest plus a feel for working on this years dig.
The most recent posts appear at the top so if you want to go through it chronologically please scroll to the bottom to start.
And thanks …..
In total 76 different people worked a total of 686 days with upwards of 50 people on site on many days.
It’s been a great few weeks, made possible by all those who took part and made it so enjoyable.
See you all next year if not before – finds processing at the barn starts soon – see Clarion for details
|Site Dog Sam|
|Julie von Ziegenweidt|
Day 17 Monday 30th August – All Over
All done on site – recording is complete, trenches are filled and everything is now back in the barn. Trenches have been covered in a permeable membrane for protection and the processed CBM has been returned to the trenches.
Now it’s just a matter of finds processing, classification and report writing to go!!
Day 15 Saturday 28th August
It’s drawing and recording all day today and packing up the finds in the marquee ready to transport back to the barn for processing.
We start breaking up the camp – despite wind and rain
And the bulk finds are all ready to go to the barn.
Day 14 Friday 27th August
Today is the last day of digging – leaving us 2 days for the final photographs and to complete the drawing and recording.
Here are the last aerial shots:
Our guests today included members of the Loddon & District British Legion, some of whom are also CRP members…
… and a surprise visit from General Lord Dannatt, formerly head of the British Army and Constable of the Tower of London.
Day 13 Thursday 26th August
Kicking off for a change with some of the small finds recovered today:
Trench 8 has completed cleaning down to the tessellated floor and the two (or is it three or even four?) phases of the building’s foundations are looking clear.
Tomorrow the team plan to dig a slot trench along the walls to more closely examine the foundations.
Trench 9 has continued excavating slot trenches in key areas.
Trench 10 continues to excavate around the remains of the earlier walls and what remains (not much, frankly) of the apse feature, and the area outside of the walls.
Trench 11 is still digging down beneath the Roman floor level and continues to earth up prehistoric pottery in significant (for us) numbers.
And over in the car park Trench 12 a series of post holes have been discovered and explored under the cobbled layer inside the teminos wall and Bronze Age pottery has been found in the slot being dug under the early Roman gravel layer.
Visitors today have included David Gurney (former Norfolk County Archaeologist) and the directors from the Caistor Hall Hotel by Brasteds, their architects and Goose the labrador – who were all treated to the full professorial tour.
And finally today we say goodbye to our students from Nottingham University who have all done a wonderful job and been a great part of our team – we hope to see them here again.
Day 12 Wednesday 25th August
Excitement today as an ITV journalist and cameraman arrive to film the dig for an item on Anglia News (being broadcast tomorrow).
Super find of the day is an implement, possibly surgical, from Trench 12.
Answers on a postcard …
Other small finds from today have included:
Visitors today have includedJames Alborn from Historic England, Anthony Jarrold (CRP Patron), and groups from the Matthew Project and the Restoration Trust – two important Norfolk charities.
Dr Tim Dennis returned to complete the GPR survey of the amphitheatre just outside the town site.
Ian’s nature shot of the day is this fine puffball mushroom – subsequently picked and eaten by Nat.
And the mounting piles of rubble sacks of recorded CBM & building materials begin to resemble Liverpool in a council strike.
Day 11 Tuesday 24th August
Starting the blog today with a quick reminder of why we’re digging this site (again), why the trenches are where they and what were were looking to understand from them this year.
The Caistor Roman Project (CRP) has been digging in and around the Roman town of Venta Icenorum since 2007/8.
Much of this story can be found via the Guide Book and the dig blogs that can be found on our website https://caistorromanproject.org
At Temple Field (off Caistor Lane) aerial photographs clearly showed two substantial buildings (the temple and an ancillary building) within a walled temple complex enclosure.
Some of this has been investigated previously but we needed to understand this whole area more completely
In 2018 CRP excavated some trenches (TEM01, 02, 03 AND 04) around the Ancillary Building – see the 2018 blog and/or the interim report, both on our website, for more details.
In 2019 CRP returned to the site and excavated trenches TEM05, 06, and 07 – focusing around the Temple area itself.
Again see the 2019 dig blog and/or the interim report – both on our website – for more details.
After a hiatus in 2020, for Covid reasons, we have returned this summer to Temple Field for the third (and possibly final) time.
For 2021 we chose, and were granted permission, to further investigate the areas in and around the Ancillary Building to properly understand the phasing and dates.
A – Trench 8 (TEM08) was positioned overlapping slightly with the TEM1 area excavated in 2018 to investigate the walls of the south-west corner of the building and the floor surfaces and to understand the passing and dating of the phases of construction – and demolition.
D – Trench 9 (TEM09) was positioned at the opposite north-west corner of the building (based on radar) and again to understand the phasing of construction.
C -Trench 10 (TEM10) was placed over northern wall and potential “apse” feature.
And D – Trench 11 (TEM11) was planned as a small trench over what the interpretation of the geo-fizz suggested floor level.
We also chose to investigate via Trench 12 (TEM12) the area that had been identified via GeoFIzz as the north-west corner of the tempos wall and a suspected roadway,
As with all archaeology the results rarely match, often differ and sometimes exceed expectations.
Today Trench 8 has been digging further around the wall(s) of the building exposing more tessellated floors, revealing more demolished fragments of column masonry and beginning to make sense of the sequence of buildings.
Trench 9 has continued to investigate a complete set of walls, robber tranches and floor surfaces – the corner of the building is now very clear.
Trench 10 has leapt forward from a planning stage and has been furiously digging focused sondages across the trench.
A new wall is being exposed – more tomorrow.
Trench 11 has been further investigated and, whilst not (yet) revealing the promised mermaid mosaic, has been turning up a lot of pre-historic (probably Iron Age) pottery.
Trench 12 plods relentlessly on … more tomorrow.
Today we celebrated the birthday of Alex (no year admitted) and Tony (significant year concerned) with a lunchtime birthday cake.
Carley, the editor of Current Archaeology magazine paid her annual pilgrimage to Caistor and was shown around by Will.
And in the afternoon some of the local Young Archaeologist Club members and families were treated to a guided tour.
Day 10 Monday 23rd August
Into the last week and we need to get the maximum information in the time we have left.
Trench 8 today continued to expose a set of walls and exposed more of the tessellated floor.
And lifted some curved segments of a column or half-column.
Jane takes levels for the Trench 8 plans with some of the portaloos as backdrop.
In Trench 9 the team continue to explore the walls, robber trenches and floor levels.
Trench 10 was closed today for photographs and planning.
Further investigation starts in earnest tomorrow with a series of focused sondage trenches.
Trench 11 was reopened again and descends further in search of the longed-for mermaid mosaic floor.
Over in Trench 12 the team wend their merry way via selected slot trenches and excavated post holes.
The post-medieval field boundary trench along the north side is confirmed as such after a lead musket ball is recovered from near the bottom of the trench.
Visitors today included the Berghapton History Group who lasted the whole town tour and dig tour without complaint.
A photo from Tony shows dig dog Sam getting some focussed attention from Nat on a visit to a sunny Trench 8.
Day 9 Sunday 22nd August
We’re back – as is the rain – although the forecast (as if) shows dry to the end of the dig.
Top find today is a stamped piece of roof tile – the first we’ve found at Caistor. Picked out by the eagle eyed CBM team from a bucket of rubble from Trench 8.
And a couple of nature shots courtesy of Ian’s roving eye:
Trench 8 has been working down to expose, and hopefully understand, the relationship between the two phases of walls now identified.
Over in Trench 9 work has focused on tracing a wall, and the return/corner, and further digging down on a complex set of surfaces.
Trench 10 is focusing on digging down further through the rubble layers, revealing walls and taking time out to postulate potential extra-terestial origins.
And lifting barrow-loads of CBM and other finds for processing.
Trench 11 has been quiet today.
Trench 12 plods on working around the terminos wall and a new set of slot trenches (sondages for the more sophisticated) to investigate key areas.
Guest visitors today included a group from CBA (Council for British Archeology) Eastern Region who enjoyed a tour from Will and a sexy finds show from Ian.
Saturday’s visitors included John Session, Chair of the Norfolk Archaeological Trust (NAT) who own the land of the main Roman town site.
Day 8 Saturday 21st August
Its the weekend!!
Today’s blog will be combined with tomorrow’s.
Day 7 Friday 20th August
Almost half way and it’s looking good!!
One of the new features of this year’s dig is being filmed for the BBC “Digging For Britain” programme, hosted by Alice Roberts, and Mya has been on-site capturing the key moments and filming “pieces to camera”.
Impossible to go further without a shot of the fabulous knitted Caistor Romano-British Temple created by Margaret – not life size.
Today Trench 8 completed the first set of drawings and began digging down again.
In Trench 9 work continued to explain the complex archaeology being revealed.
Trench 10 has dug through the potential apsidal feature hinted at yesterday at the north end – now shown to be a mortar spread and is revealing a wall at the south end.
An enormous amount of demolition debris was recovered from TEM10 today.
Trench 11 finished drawing and set out to dig further down in search of the tessellated floor – estimated to a be another 20cm or so below.
And finally, Trench 12 – where the return of the terminos wall has been clearly established.
A couple of shots of Tim Dennis carrying out a GPR survey on the presumed amphitheatre site outside the Roman town yesterday.
The early results are looking really exciting with more work being planned.
Being Friday we had a lunchtime show & tell from Ian on some of the small finds to date and some highlights from the bulk finds from Andy.
Visitors today included Alice Lyons and Sarah Percival, two of our finds’ experts … and Radley the dog.
And landowner and CRP supporter Chris Skinner (and Rat the dog) popped over for a chat with Mike and Rhiane.
Late in the day John Percival dropped off a load of equipment donated to to CRP from Gressinghall – thanks John, very gratefully received.
Day 6 Thursday 19th August
A shorter blog today and no drone shots as Geoff has been working with Dr Tim Dennis on a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey of the presumed amphitheatre site on the edge of the Roman town. Very exciting!!
Trench 8 has been drawing all day
Digging has restarted in Trench 9 and a complex area with multiple layers and walls is being revealed.
Trench 10 is partly drawing and partly digging – and continues to produce masses of “finds”, most of it demolished building material.
And, possibly, the first signs of an apsoidal (as in apse-like) feature.
Trench 11 caught up with the paperwork before moving to dig out the lower contexts.
It’s all hands on (again) in Trench 12 – which today revealed the return (corner) of the terminos wall.
And at the other end yesterday’s potential post-hole/pad has been half sectioned and the area drawing nears completion.
A glimpse of some of the finds from across the site today:
Val Fryer joined the team today and delivered a couple of student training sessions on environmental sampling.
The backlog of CBM processing has been completed – all now up to date, thanks everyone!
And the side project to feed up site dog Sam continues – Val’s promised chicken as well as Ian’s pork pie and an assortment of student sandwich samples.
Day 5 Wednesday 18th August
Welcome to Day 5 – and we continue to make good progress across the site as can be seen from the air – with thanks to Geoff Lunn for the drone pictures.
And our new CRP banner has been unveiled – thanks Alex:
Trench 8 has now cleared out all of the ploughsoil exposing the wall up to where the return appears, at this level, to have been completely ploughed out.
The rubble spread, as found in 2018, is mostly outside of the building.
In Trench 9 Wendy has finished the first set of drawings and the team is descending again.
Another wall seems to be appearing as well as a possible floor surface within the building. The potential post-pad has been half-sectioned with more to be revealed tomorrow.
For Trench 10 it’s been largely a drawing/planning day with many of the team helping with other work.
With the UEA students off today there has been no progress on Trench 11 – although a picture of classic horizontal archaeology has emerged from yesterday.
A veritable host of diggers descended on Trench 12 at times today
Whilst the Nottingham team were directed onto drawing the gravelled surface at the west end of the trench – after which we will dig some slots through the surface …
… and take a half section through the “suspected” post-hole.
Linda thinks she may have found the return/corner of the terminos wall via a mortar spread, the rubble-rich area to the inside of the wall remains rubble-rich …
… and site dog Sam lends a hand to Richard the Second.
Today’s guests were from the Essex Branch of the Historical Association who thoroughly enjoyed a tour of the town with Alex followed by a tour of the site from Will and a small finds show’n’tell with Ian.
Day 4 Tuesday 17th August
So much for the forecast sunshine – a dank and drizzly day for our hardy diggers and support teams.
Site dog Sam cruises the lunchers for some tasty treats as usual – here Ian gives him his very own pork pie, brought in specially.
Val has promised him chicken tomorrow – don’t forget Val, a promise is a promise to a dog !!
Trench 8 has at last removed the final spit of ploughsoil (c. 300mm) to reveal a previously unseen wall and mortar spreadl and will tomorrow work down through the demolition rubble.
Tony has now arrived and taken over from Nat as supervisor just as the trench starts looking interesting.
Over in Trench 9 the morning was mostly spent cleaning down for photos and the afternoon on drawing.
All is now ready to descend deeper down tomorrow – and to take out lots more CBM rubble.
The team in Trench 10 have been taking out lots more CBM, rubble plus oyster shell, animal bones, pottery and an unworked piece of shale or jet.
On very limited evidence the team are now eagerly hypothesising trench 10 to be an area dedicated to feasting, drinking and wanton orgies.
The under-floor surface is now clearly defined in the south-west corner – within the apsidal area, proving the radar to be correct.
All is now ready to go deeper and take out the spread of building material tomorrow.
Expecting CBM by the barrow-load.
Trench 11 has dug further down and has now reached the top level of demolition materials.
Tomorrow should begin to tell us what might lay below – and produce more CBM en-masse.
Back in the car park the ever-increasing Trench 12 team has continued to track the terminus wall and found it to continue further than initially thought – although the corner has still yet to be revealed.
The rain made the plough scars in the gravelled surface at the west end of the trench much more clearly visible to photograph but the edges remain elusive.
Sieving in Trench 12 has taken an industrial turn – sheltered under a large gazebo with buckets lined up to be sieved by context.
And finally, as weary diggers sleep, the main marquee silently awaits the avalanche of CBM expected tomorrow.
Day 3 Monday 16th August
The first Monday and we have loooaaadddds of people on site with all of the Nottingham contingent safely camped out and more of our members with us.
Sadly, the weather has been less kind – breezy and squally – but work carries on regardless.
Our poor generator has been much maligned recently – it’s old, smelly and noisy (as are many of the team) but has no name.
Today’s competition is to name the generator – please not Jenny Mac Jenn Face but something more suitable – with the possibility of a small and insignificant prize for the chosen winner.
Trench 8 – has proven to be a tad more exciting today with the exposure of a wall and tessellated floor from the 2018 excavation – now re-covered for the next time.
Otherwise work continues valiantly to whack out plough soil – despite the lack of new photo record sheets – yes I’ve remembered!!
Over in Trench 9 – Wendy and team spent the day stripping down another spit across the trench – and posing for the camera.
What is being revealed today is puzzling – a wall where nobody expected a wall, some under floor surfacing and a deposit of demolition materials.
Trench 10 continues to produce vast amounts of demolished ceramic building materials (CBM) from a disciplined team of parallel diggers.
The newly opened “baby” Trench 11 has today, with the application of cheap student labour and Mike’s focussed supervision, descended some 300mm of ploughsoil and produced more exciting demolished building material.
In the car park Trench 12 the team has has plodded on with the terminus wall clearly outlined although the expected corner has yet to materialise..
This afternoon Chrissy held a training session for students likely to be involved in the on-site processing of CBM.
CRP volunteers had a similar session earlier this month.
Work processing the CBM starts in earnest tomorrow as there’s tons of it and we don’t want to bring any of it back to the barn.
And site dog (sadly now less of a sight dog) Sam kept warm by loyally sporting a NCFC scarf.
Days 1 & 2 Saturday 14th & Sunday 15th August
This year we aim to share some aerial shots from the end of each day.
Today we have:
First proper day on site starts with morning prayers
The good news is that the generator has been fixed (again) so hot drinks are available. All donations towards a replacement generator are very welcome.
Trench 8 has made a relaxed start troweling down through the ploughsoil but has now discovered the edge of the 2018 trench – which confirms our trench positioning.
Trench 9 was briefly opened by by Giles and Mike
Although interest seemed to wane later in the day.
Trench 10 – is also working down through the ploughsoil with a triumph of trowelling and mattocking techniques and ended the day with a scrupulously clean surface for photography.
Trench 11 has also been working though the ploughsoil.
Trench 12 has revealed perhaps the most interesting features thus far:
Highlight of the day (for some) was when site dog Sam christened Ashley’s bucket:
We also had a visit from the Battlefield Trust who were treated by Alex to a tour of the Roman town and the excavation site.
Week Zero – Set-Up
As always the pre-week starts on Monday with putting up th electric fence and moving the horses,
Followed on Tuesday with annual poo picking contest.
Come Wednesday it was time to load up from the barn
And set up the marquee – a job for our Royal Engineer contingent – and the next bits of our dig village
And mark out all the trenches with Dr Dave and Martin as sidekick.
On Thursday our friends from the Flying Scotsman drop off the rest of the tools and marquee equipment
And Darren (our favourite digger driver) from Kingdom Landscapes arrives to begin opening the tranches as Andy B starts to identify metallic small finds.
We had a successful haul of finds including: