Rebecca Cadbury Simmons
The days at Binchester are speeding past in a blur of suncream and cobbles, and we can’t believe our third week of digging is already over! This week we continued to remove the layers that we started to remove last week, this is a long process due to their huge size. Now that we’ve lifted them, we’ve cleaned them back, photographed them and have started to plan the underlying deposits. This has been a test of the memories of the volunteers who learned how to do it last year and a new experience for some, but everyone has taken to it with flying colours! To the north-east of the trench a huge spread of cobbles has been lifted and revealed a large soil deposit and a side road heading off to the north-east. Whilst we were lifting this layer, we thought there may have had another group of postholes, but during the removal process this turned out not be the case.
On the opposite side of the road we finished recording and removing the levelling deposit that was underlying the stone building we removed last week. Underneath the levelling layer was a wall with an interior circular chamber which appears to be a roadside oven. There was also a large burnt deposit inside the oven. It is likely that this layer was used to bake things such as bread and in the overlying stone building we had recorded several repurposed quern stones (used for grinding grains into flour) which could have originally been used in association with this!
We’re making great progress with the excavation and are now into the third century deposits which is really exciting. This week also saw a visit from NAA’s palaeobotanist (specialist in ancient plant remains), Jonathan, who came to the site to talk to the team about what we can learn from these remains. This gave the volunteers some great background information as to why we take environmental samples and what we can learn from them, for example, what the roadside oven might have been used for.
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