Friday, September 12, 2008

A brief dry interlude

After some time away, I returned to the dig to see it had been expanded into an area nearer the river. The machines have cut most of it to the top of the Roman layer, leaving only the foundations of almshouses from the Victorian period. They will be taken away soon, so that we have an expanse of Roman archaeology to work with.
Hal gave the Friday update (it's every Friday at 11.00 and all are welcome) sketching in the entire history of the site, which has changed since I last heard. That's why we are digging: to gather more evidence, so that our view of Worcester's history becomes fuller and more accurate. That evidence (as measurements, descriptions of soils, pottery, bones and a lovely bracelet, modelled in the picture by Angus) is assessed and reassessed by archaeologists, who can compare it with evidence from other sites, in Worcester and far beyond.

Going backwards, it was
- a place for keeping the dustbin lorries;
- Joseph Wood the builder's sawmill and timber yard (1820-1970 ish);
- agricultural land for around 1400 years before that, perhaps with some defensive role in the Civil War or before
- a Roman industrial site.

Because of the amount of slag, which is a waste product of iron making, we* thought it might be an iron works, but there is no other evidence for this, though there are indications of iron working. There is a road running from the railway to the Butts, not a well-made military road, but an industrial way. We thought a ditch at right angles to this might be a ditch by the side of a later road, which we expect to find, but the road isn't there as far as we can see. In the new section there are several obvious features represented by different coloured earth, one of which Hal thinks is a hearth (the polythene bag in the picture marks the spot, and protects the marker from the torrential rain which struck two hours later).
I've been washing finds, because I'm suffering from a week's walking in the North York Moors, and need to sit down. The finds tray in the picture is my share for this morning. There's some Samian, not the best quality, from Southern Gaul, some Severn Valley ware, maybe from Malvern, other pottery and some bits of bone, which crumbled into splinters mostly. After it's dry, someone will write the context number, which indicates where in the site it was found, on each piece.

*We is used to mean the people who know what they are talking about. Not me as it might suggest.

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