Year 3 and we’re off. Back to Nassington with MidNAG to delve deeper into an Iron Age and Roman agricultural site. Old friends from as far away as New Zealand, and new friends from as near as Lincolnshire.
Over the past 2 years we have discovered and explored an enigmatic Roman barn. Large, with fine herringbone foundations and a number of curious kiln features which we have yet to fully understand. The photo above shows how we left it last September.
The dry weather this year means it is hopeless to re-open the site of the barn so we are set to explore the surrounding area – investigating features highlighted by a magnetometry survey.
Day 1 – Saturday 18th
Mainly set-up today but we did get busy with mattocks and trowels in the afternoon. A couple of trenches underway. What will we find???!!!
Day 3 – Monday 20th
Three days in and we’ve moved a lot of soil and cornbrash. Plenty of pottery, a good few Roman coins, many hob nails and other small finds including a copper bracelet.
We are starting to pick out the variations in soil colour and texture which reflect the geophys marks but it feels like a hard slog with temperatures in the mid 20s.
Day 5 – Wednesday 22nd
Refreshed after a day’s rest your correspondent was pleased to find that Carol and Mike had made good progress in Trench 5! It still took a full day to bottom the depths of our feature.
The team in trench 8 at the top of the hill were faced with excavating through limestone. Their reward for persistence and enthusiasm was some fine definition of the Iron Age track-way and pit they are investigating.
At lunch time we were joined by Geoff Dannell, chair of the Nene Valley Archaeological Trust. He gave us a fascinating talk on Samian ware as we rested and re-fueled.
Day 6 – Thursday 23rd
Yes – I think we need to open another trench!
Day 9 – Sunday 26nd
The day started well but always with the threat of rain.
This was the view from the tent by 11am!
However we were able to welcome a few brave visitors for the Open Day. And whilst the diggers drifted away the pot washers stuck to their task.
Day 10 – Monday 27th
Bright but not too sunny, moderate temperature, soft ground – an ideal day for digging!
Trench of the day was number 12. There were excited squeals throughout the day and a reluctance to take breaks. There is a pit which is being excavated in quadrants. Each one has different characteristics. Examine the 4 photos below and send your answers on a postcard.
Then late in the day, to the south of trench 12 we found this.
The plan had been to take a break from Roman walls this year – but we can’t ignore it. No shortage of work for Week 2.
In Trench 9 Mike and Liz have been excavating a possible re-cut within a larger ditch. Very few finds and a real challenge to distinguish 50 shades of brown. A couple of days ago Liz had been told her stone was not significant. She was delighted today to be told by another archaeologist that it was at a very interesting angle and probably marked the edge of the secondary cut.
Day 12 – Wednesday 29th
Rain overnight helped bring out the colours. However, any hopes that it would soften the ground were soon dashed.
In Trench 8 we have good definition of parallel ditches cut into limestone either side of a track, and a large pit feature alongside to the west.
The purpose of the pit is as yet unknown but pottery finds indicate that it is Iron Age.
And how about this for find of the day. A wonderful Roman knife discovered in Trench 12. No metal detector required.
Day 13 – Thursday 30th
Special thanks today to Olive who laid on an excellent spread for our “Diggers’ Party” and to Geoff who shared his very special Armagnac Cake to celebrate his birthday.
There was a lot of work this morning to prepare Trench 12 for photographs before removal of the floor layer. Here’s a drone shot as Derek explained what he was seeing to the assembled masses.
There’s a more detailed vertical view online at the “MapsMadeEasy Website“. It comes up very small so you need to zoom in to the relevant area. Curiously the base Google map shows the open excavation of the Roman Barn from last year!
Fewer finds today but here’s a really nice worked flint from Trench 10 yesterday.
For my own odd reasons it is often good to have a shot from the drone before it takes off. Usually they are totally rubbish – but today’s is really nice and includes a stone feature built by Sam.
Day 14 – Friday 31st
End in sight but everyone just wanting more idyllic days in the sun.
Nigel brought his dig to a close by lifting a Roman ox skull from the base of Trench 5 – more than 2 metres below ground level.
There was a determined effort to bottom the ash in Trench 12.
Janice (below right) celebrated news of passing her Cambridge University Archaeology Diploma with flying colours.
Day 16 – Sunday 2nd
A busy morning spent drawing sections and cleaning straw from the trenches in preparation for final photographs. Another beautiful day though continuous sunshine inevitably casts heavy shadows.
The afternoon was about clear-up with a certain sadness as the tents come down.
Derek Roberts will be presenting what we have learnt so far at an upcoming talk in Peterborough on Monday 1st October.
The dig is organised by MidNAG and we are grateful to Gill, Derek and the rest of their team for organising such an enjoyable excavation.