We’re back with a full three week community dig!. Read our daily updates, scroll down for day 1.
For those of you who find reading on line difficult, Peter’s posts are preceded with an audio clip.
Friday 26th August THE LAST DAY OF WHAT HAS TURNED OUT TO BE A REMARKABLE SEASON.
My head is spinning with what has been discovered this year, the questions answered and numerous more we now face. The Kiln Field, where it all began is now at a stage where we can at long last issue our first report. The lovely kilns along with the surrounding landscape has been dug, we have found an ever changing landscape throughout the Roman era with snippets of the Bronze and Iron age appearing too. The initial aim of this project to investigate two Roman pottery kilns has been completed. Yes I know there is still much to look at in the Kiln Field, but we are thank goodness at a point where we can draw breath and focus elsewhere.
The Kitchen Garden has now become the focus of activity in the next few years. My belief that a Roman building existed under my garden has at last been proven. We have a Channelled Hypocaust under the floor of a Roman building. Dr John Davis was with us this morning and was very impressed with the work that has been done by the wonderful volunteers. So I now pass on my thanks to all of you who have shown so much professionalism in your work this year. The fact that we now have, without any doubt a substantial Roman building on this truly amazing site is all I could ever ask for. So thank you to everyone involved in any way at all, for making this crazy mad dream…..very very real. I will leave you with photos of today, and hope to produce a post in the next few days of the highlights. Thank you so so much to everyone who is part of this project, in whatever way you participate. We are all taking part in a wonderful community project that is being noticed throughout the archaeological community. A final thank you to Martin of Britannia Archaeology for leading us this year. You are an inspiration to all of us. Your guidance gives us the confidence to discover the history of Woodgate, and what a history we are finding. Good night to all and please sleep well. Peter
Thursday 25th August Well here we are on the penultimate day of ARP 2022. The torrential rain forecast we were lucky to miss but had frequent and sometimes heavy showers. For my plants at the nursery I am very grateful. Of course digging was not an option, apart from trying to finish the section in the Kitchen Garden. Thank you to Donna and Deborah and two new friends for doing what they could. Plenty of sieving was done, and as usual many more finds from the subsoil were sent to the finds tent. Jan and a wonderful band of merry cleaners were working their way through the finds. As I said yesterday we have thousands of finds to archive over the coming year, our work is never done!!!
A lovely piece of Nene Valley ware was removed from a sealed context in the KG. Dating approx. 190-290AD. Donna had been waiting to remove this lovely piece of pottery for about a week, and when Martin decided to dig it she threatened him with no cake for a year! So Donna was allowed to dig it out. Andy from Britannia was able to tell us via pics sent to him by Martin, that it was Lower Nene Valley Barbotine scale decoration on a beaker likely with a plain rim. Please see pics attached. I have also posted pics of a piece of Samian ware, I think, found sieving the subsoil in KG. Any help with ID on this would be gratefully received. Looks like a piece of Mortaria.
So tomorrow we have to clean both trenches for final photos. Prepare the KG for backfilling, to be reopened next year. And await our end of dig talk from Martin. Talks will begin around 1pm or soon after, starting in the KG and moving to the Kiln Field around 2.15pm. Britannia will be back next week at some stage to GPS the sections, so we know exactly where all the features are. And to start to plan the dig next year. We really do work one year ahead so we can plan and organise each dig to make sure all the powers that be are happy with what we want to do. A process that takes a lot of patience and planning!! Thank you as always to everyone involved in any way with this amazing project. See you tomorrow for the big REVEAL. Peter
Wednesday 24th August Good evening to all, and a big thank you to everyone taking part today as we head towards the end of another August dig. As previously mentioned I was concerned about not having enough to dig, and now we are going to be covering parts of Kitchen Garden to re-open in future years. The problem with a trench that is not adjoining feature-less ground, means we have no relationship with anything, an archaeologist’s nightmare. Britannia along with Historic England will have to think carefully where we go next year. So we now have undisputed evidence of a Roman building in the KG. We have associated features to the kilns in the Kiln Field. We have at least 8 thousand finds this year already, maybe close to 10 thousand!! The year ahead is already fully booked for finds cleaning and recording. Hope we can actually finish before we start again in 2023! With the threat of thunder storms and possible torrential rainfall tomorrow, we’ll see if that’s correct, we may be only able to sieve. Will just have to wait and see how the weather unfolds. So very briefly, as I have nursery work to attend to, the grids in the KG were dug deeper with careful finds retrieval. The usual CBM and a few pot sherds. The other sections to the west of the trench were 1 finished, cleaned, recorded and photographed. And 2 nearly finished, so a little bit to complete tomorrow. Martin dug section H, I think, in KG to try to find the natural, he found yet more evidence of intense burning and a lovely complete roof tile (albeit in about 7 pieces), but complete nonetheless. We can now compare this roof tile to the one found many many years ago, and see how they compare. I will leave you now to look at photos, and perhaps go to bed knowing we have a wonderful Roman building at Woodgate. Thank you all again for making my dream a reality. Peter
Tuesday 23rd August Well, where to begin? It was lovely to see people from Aylsham Manor on site today, do hope you enjoyed your visit. We also had a group from Wymondham Trefoil Guild in the afternoon, so pleased you could join us. Those of you who couldn’t make it today, we are open on Saturday between 1000 and 1400. This will be the last opportunity to look at our dig sites before we finish for this year.
And so to what happened today. In the Kiln Field, three grids around Grid M that has produced many finds, have been opened. Some pieces of Roman pot have already been found. These will be continued tomorrow. Well done to Kyran, Andrea, Francis, Gill, Lynsey, Mark, Sue Y, Jan and Sue S for working through the heat of the afternoon clearing a huge amount of soil from a couple of these grids. Team work at its best, bravo!
In the Kitchen Garden we are continuing to take down the compact clay surface. Finds again have included tile and pottery, many black as we have a consistent layer of burning. The trench to the west now has 15 separate layers of activities, from Roman to early Victorian and these will be unpicked tomorrow. I don’t know how Martin manages to keep track of it all, but we are so grateful that he does. The trench in the North West corner has Roman demolition under Georgian material. Two days to go to find the solutions.
Once again a big thank you to all who came today, wherever you have been, in the Welcome Tent, the Finds Marquee, on the sieves, in one of the dig sites, serving in the catering wagon. Hope to see you all again tomorrow. Sleep well. Peter
Monday 22nd August Good evening to all and thank you to everyone who was with us today. I have just received phone call from a lorry driver delivering plants and he’s arriving in a few mins. So I will leave you with some lovely photos of today. Just a quick mention to say how lovely to see Jane and Philip back on site today. Please take care of yourselves, but really wonderful to see you recovering.
The focus was KG, and as usual it revealed possibly too much!! The photos of people looking perplexed probably speaks volumes. Sorry, but must go. Hope you can enjoy evening, and looking forward to tomorrow. Peter
Friday 19th August We’ve completed week 2, and nothing much new to report really!!
We had two groups of visitors today. Aylsham in Bloom, very kindly shown around by Wendy. Thank you. And Briston and Melton Constable WI. I was very pleased to talk them around the kiln field, our own reconstruction of a Roman pottery kiln and a tour of the finds tent. We then walked to the Kitchen Garden to listen to Martin explaining what discoveries have been made there….quite a few it turns out!
Not much activity in the kiln field today as most were sent for a major assault on KG. However Chris, Brenda and Frances were continuing on grid M, now given the title ENF152513 P(13006). Lots more kiln fabric was found in the ditch terminus that has already produced a vast quantity of pottery and kiln fabric. One piece in particular caught my attention. A piece of kiln fabric with beautiful finger marks, part of a vent hole and evidence of a willow withie. A full house I believe. Brilliant and thank you. The waste pit was fully excavated along with the north-south ditch. I’m afraid I’m not aware of any finds being retrieved, having been out delivering this morning, nursery work does continue!
Moving on to the KG. Digging continued on the supposed Roman floor, which has slumped into a void beneath it, and interestingly the material below is rather burnt, whereas the material above is not. Why is the void there, could it be a hypocaust? I hardly dare ask the question. Many pieces of box flue tile where recovered today, a clue perhaps. The floor must be dug first thing next week and as we go down through the layers we might find the conclusive evidence. In the northern most part of the ditch, Frances found another coin, which looks to be the same as the one Jan found earlier this week. Dated 347-348 AD. This is in the top of the ditch, but still in a sealed Roman context, which suggests if we have a building it was demolished or burnt sometime before the mid to late 4th century. Well I think that’s correct, there was a lot of information to take in this afternoon! The west side of the trench had a section dug through it, and it produced a lot of CBM and some pot. And to the west end a void was discovered, which again suggests a hypocaust system. I am probably hoping too much for evidence of this elusive Roman building, but I have enormous faith that by the end of next week we will have that proof. One day in the future maybe a few years from now, I can announce to all that the Romano British were living here, had a house here and it had an underfloor heating system. Just had a thought that the hypocaust might have caused the fire that burnt it down. I have no doubt that Martin will tell me when he is certain. A huge thank you to all who helped today in any capacity. A huge thank you to Martin and all at Britannia who have led us brilliantly over the last two weeks. A lot of work still to do, and I know we cannot complete it, so we will cover it over and start again next year. Here was I a few weeks ago wondering if we had enough to dig, and now we have no chance of completing! Having got to understand this site, I must realise we will never be in a position to not have enough to dig, well certainly not in my lifetime. Thank you to all for your help today. We are making huge strides into discovering the history of Woodgate. And I will leave you with this wonderful comment from Martin. No one will ever be able to build on this site because it is so full of archaeology. Music to my ears. Peter.