Welcome blog watchers to what will be the final instalment of the 2009 dig diary. Such was the excitement of finishing and packing up that the writing of the blog got sadly delayed, so this last episode will attempt to be a bumper finale with pictures and all sorts.
Day 26 was the last official day of excavation. We were deluged with visitors with the final count standing at more than 3,600 over the course of the project. The church trenchers continue to dig furiously to finalised the exciting complex of late Roman gullies that have been revealed. The church trench has been a good result with the dominance of late Roman features and finds suggesting that this area of the town may have been sparsely occupied in the early Roman period. Which we didn’t know before. Alice of the mystic pottery skills is excited to find a stamped mortarium of a prolific Colchester mortaria maker (mortaria are big mortar things as in mortar and pestle with gritty interiors to aid the grinding process). John P. is so thrilled by this that he trumps his old lady incarceration feat of the previous day by falling spectacularly into the trench, an act from which he emerges miraculously unscathed. John P’s life continues to unravel on the following day, when he puts his watch in the washing machine and his saucepan rack falls off his kitchen wall.
In Giles and Mick’s wacky world of gravel in trench 1, we are faced with a surfeit of visiting geologists who broadly confirm that we are looking at a complex sequence of periglacial features, in which gravel banks were formed by summer glacial melt waters. A later hollow was probably used by Mesolithic flint knappers (or hopefully it was, otherwise we will have 3 dimensionally recorded a million fint flakes to no purpose whatsoever). Although less spectacular than the weird ritual world of trench 2, trench 1 has contributed a huge amount to our understanding of the formation processes of the Caistor landscape and its use in prehistory. And it did have Boudica’s small gulley.
In trench 2, Francesca, the human bone lady (which sounds like an excellent circus act) causes consternation by announcing that Elvis, a deeply buried body in the lovely pit, is in fact female and so has to be renamed Priscilla. She causes considerably more consternation by saying that we need to lift the exposed sections rather than rebury them, as they are likely to decompose if left. However, star that she is, she volunteers to do the job herself, disappearing into the pit to clean the bones. This later causes the director to GET DIRTY for the first time in the whole season, by lying face down to take pictures of the exposed legs (which sounds worse than it really was).
Thanks to all those who have followed our progress on the blog and who have visited the site to encourage us and buy plastic swords. We were all stunned by the level of interest and support that was shown to us.
The project wouldn’t have happened without the support and encouragement of Peter Wade-Martins and the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, together with David Gurney of Norfolk Landscape Archaeology and John Davies of Norwich Castle Museum.
We owe an enormous debt to May Gurney and their chief executive, Philip Fellowes-Prynne, who not only provided equipment but brought cake as well! Mike Dixon of A-Plant was also a star, responding positively to ever more cheeky requests for equipment. The project was funded by the Foyle Foundation, the Roman Research Trust and South Norfolk Council. Mikey Bentley of South Norfolk Council, a long-standing supporter of the project, was always willing to provide whatever help was requested.
Chris Skinner of High Ash Farm provided the centrepiece of our visitor display with his wonderful collection of stone axes. Thanks too to Caistor Hall Hotel and the Framingham Earl leisure centre for the vital use of their showers.
Giles Emery, Mick Boyle, Sarah Bates, Jon Cousins, John Percival and Heather Wallis were a star supervisory team, while Dave Bescoby surveyed, shared blog responsibility, argued with geologists and withstood the testing of his geophysics. The finds expertise of Alice Lyons, Francesca Boghi, Gwladys Monteil, Sarah Percival and Peter Robins was also fundamental to the success of the dig, providing the facts to counteract the director’s deranged imagination.
Finally, the success of the project owes everything to the hard work and good humour of the many volunteers who made it work, in particular Hazel and Dave Leese, who were the first to arrive on site in August and who will be the last to leave tomorrow (they hope).
Final sword count: 25
Final slow-worm count: 2