Day 13 of the excavation. 13 is unlucky for some but not for the Caistor Project which sees a bumper day of sword sales. Thanks to some heavy promotion by the tent staff, 7 high quality plastic weapons are forced on a discerning public (see pictures below). It is a record day for visitor numbers with 229 people passing through the door of the marquee (and they were only the ones we managed to count).
Peter Robins, the flint man, comes to see our lovely collection of struck flakes and is mildly underwhelmed, although impressed with our Mesolithic axe. It does seem, however, that the river terrace of the Tas is a likely site for Mesolithic and Neolithic occupation (i.e. about 10,000 – 2000 BC – in other words really old), although what this actually means is open to question. Our gullies and pits in Trench 1 are producing some flints and Neolithic or early Bronze Age pottery. Even with the eye of the true believer, pottery this early is generally fairly rubbish – blobs of soft fired clay with bits of calcite or similar, although presumably was revolutionary in its day.
Trench 2, meanwhile, is a good 2,500 years later and we are happily in the late Roman period, with pottery and coins coming out including a very nice coin of the house of Valentinian (360s AD+). As an archaeologist faced with a small bronze coin, the best ploy is to scratch your chin knowledgeably and say “Hmm, house of Constantine, or house of Valentinian, 4th century for sure”. The law of averages says that you will probably be right most of the time and people will assume that you know what you’re talking about. What’s not to like? In this case said member of house of Valentinian seems to have a quite natty pony-tail (a bit like Poldark for readers of a certain age) so we should be able to narrow it down a bit.
Meanwhile over in the church, the lower part of the church wall is looking suspiciously Roman. It almost certainly isn’t but it’s fun to speculate and it has a levelling course of tile that would scream Roman in another context. However, it’s probably a medieval wall made with bits of Roman masonry rather than a Roman wall standing 4m high, which would admittedly be much more fun.
Anyway, back to the more important subject of swords. Here’s Isabella fighting her way out of her pushchair, before admitting defeat and taking the honourable Roman course of falling on her own sword.
Graph shows alarming increase of sword sales during the full-moon!