Days 16-20

It’s the last week so here’s my final wrap up! There will still be things on this blog so don’t back out just yet but it is the end of the Malton excavation unfortunately. It’s been gorgeous weather all week (almost too good, it’s hard to work in this heat!) so enjoy some sunny shots. It’s such a contrast to the storm in week 2!

Day 16

I had a great time on Monday. We did some site tours all morning and it was so great to share the amazing work we’ve been doing with some of the local people. Everyone was really nice and enthusiastic and I love seeing the general public getting excited about archaeology!

In the afternoon we went into Malton to distribute the newsletter we’ve been working on. I also took some photos of the posters we put up last week.

Day 17

I spent the morning being a ‘real’ archaeologist troweling some rocks then I went off to film with Caitlin the finds officer (thanks again Caitlin!) I also took a huge horse mandible (jaw) out which was fun. Video feat Caitlin coming soon!

The trench was so hot and dry that a tiny shadow cast by a wall was inhabited by some burrowing bees. I hope they vacate before friday or they have a soily surprise coming their way!

Day 18

We had the day off today. Rather than editing videos all day like I planned to I ended up having to go into town to get a new pair of prescription sunglasses because mine broke on Monday! I also ended up buying an everyday pair as well because specsavers had an offer on. Turns out I won’t be able to pick up my sunglasses till Monday so I bought ANOTHER emergency pair from Tiger. Came out to get one pair and I came back with three! Got some Ice Cream as well so all in all it was a great day. Enjoy these photos of me trying on my glasses via photos so I could send them to my mum.

Day 19

In the morning we had a lovely visit from the local montessori nursery. It was great to see the kids so enthusiastic, we’ll make archaeologists of them yet! In the afternoon I was giving tours to some people who came a long to say hello, we had a meeting about what us heritage lot are going to do once we’ve finished the excavation and then I was filming student interviews for this blog! I was very very busy all day so no photos I’m afraid.

Day 20

Last day! It was a weird day on site, everyone trying to get everything finished on time and we were rushing about trying to get the last little bit of content for heritage (thanks to everyone who took time out their very busy to talk to us, much appreciated) and Steve Roskams (site manager) was giving tours and we had quite a few members of the public coming a long asking what we were doing. All in all it was very busy. It was a little sad seeing everything being put away from the last time and knowing that in a few days all our hard work will be covered up again. Even trench-cat came along to say bye! We’ll miss you Malton!

Although that might be the end of the excavation the work is nowhere near done! As far as this blog goes I have a bunch of other videos and posts I want to make. As a year group we had post-excavation processing days to go to and as a department there is still so much sorting and processing that needs doing, it could take months! Stay tuned on here to hear about what we’re doing because there is still more to come!

Thanks for sticking with me this far.

~Amy 🙂

Interpretation in Trench 9

Although we’ve had three full weeks on site so far we’re only just finishing the second week of looking at the archaeology of the trench that I’m working in at the moment. That means that we finally have an idea of what’s going on, this is gonna be a long one so without further ado this is what we have in Trench 9:

(however if you want ‘further ado’ you can check out my post called ‘Introduction to the Site’ which talks a little more about the context we’re working in).

As a geordie lass I think it’s appropriate that we start in the north.

We have a pile of rubble (it’s a ROMAN pile of rubble if that makes it more exciting). I jest, it’s actually pretty interesting. We think it’s something that has collapsed during the last phase of occupation (rubble is marked out in red). The lines marked in yellow are not a feature but rather the marks from last years excavation. The area in blue at the back where the two women are working is currently very interesting because it is producing a lot of finds such as nails, glass, bones and teeth. There is also some long scratch marks over the whole thing and these are caused by medieval ploughing.

Interpretation: there is a couple of things that this could mean. The rubble is most likely from something collapsed: maybe a building, could this have collapsed after it was abandoned? Did it happen while it was in use? Could there have been anyone in the building when it collapsed? Another idea is that it could have been a surface that might have been used to walk on as a yard or the floor of a building.

You can see the depth of the rubble here.

Moving a bit further south we have the antiquarian trench (marked in red). This was a trench made from an excavation in 1927 than runs through the fort and into the vicus (check out my post ‘Introduction to the Site’ for more info on what a vicus is). It pretty much cuts straight through our rubble pile. Although this might appear to be a negative thing is simply adds another layer to the history of our trench and it also leaves the opportunity to look at some of the beautiful stratigraphy. Stratigraphy is the different layers that are laid on top of each other over the years: think of it like lasagna, which has lots of different layers that you can see when you cut it. In order to get a better look at this strat (as it’s known it’s the business) a box trench was cut into the side last year (marked in yellow). The blue is a great example of some simple strat: the darker stuff is topsoil that was used to fill the trench when they finished the dig last year, then there’s a black tarp separating that from the archaeology underneath.

Let’s talk about this strat for a second. So the layers we’re looking at are:

  • Rubble: possibly caused by a collapsed building
  • Thin Red: stone can turn red in two ways. The first is just by wear and tear, people walking on it, exposed to the elements ect. The second way is by heating/burning.
  • Yellow: this is most likely a layer or mortar from brickwork
  • Black: unclear on what has caused this but it looks like it might be charcoal from a fire or a natural deposit that has turned to charcoal over time
  • Thicker Red: see above
  • Yellow: see above

Below the antiquarian trench we have something a little exciting! The main feature you can see is a wall which ends a lot earlier on than expected (marked in blue) and where it starts to disappear there is some sort of soil deposit (marked in yellow) along with a mysterious pit (green). On the other side of the trench there is a stone structure that is producing a lot of red burned stone (marked in red).

Interpretation: the wall deposit and pit is thought to be a robber’s trench. This is what happens when someone digs through a wall to get to whatever is inside. This is most likely to steal the stone for use in their own buildings but this could also be someone looting the items inside the building. This probably happened after the end of occupation on the site. The stone structure is thought to have been a kiln as there is burned stone and no sign of metal work.

If there’s a kiln that means that there would have been fire and heat. Is this what caused the red and black layer in the strat? Maybe that’s how the building collapsed? Could a fire have destroyed these buildings?Was anyone hurt? Was it done on purpose?

Beyond this is just a sheet of rubble that we believe is on top of a cobbled surface. It leads into trench 8.

What do you think we have going on here: let me know your interpretations in the comments. If we find out anything new and exciting that might influence these interpretations I’ll make a new post so keep an eye out for that in the next couple weeks. See you next time,

~Amy 🙂

Days 11-15

It’s the end of week 3 of excavation which means it’s time for another update!

Day 11

This was a bank holiday monday so not much happened today. I wrote some blog posts and edited a video: all of which should be out by now so go check them out!

The thumbnail for my video: check out my previous post to watch it.

Day 12

We’re back in the trench! Though it has poured with rain all day which is a downside. In the morning we were mainly just cleaning off the rubble (still) but things are starting to get moving and hopefully we should be able to see all the features soon. In the morning the weather wasn’t too bad but in the afternoon the heavens opened and we all had to hide for a little until it passed. We had a meeting about heritage plans and I spoke to my trench supervisor (Ian) about what we’re seeing at the moment. They’ll be a full post about current interpretation of Trench 9 sometime next week.

Day 13

Excavation was called off today due to the weather! Usually Wednesday is an optional day anyway and doesn’t contribute towards assessment (most of the Archaeology course has the excavation as their assessment but us Heritage lot don’t) so it hasn’t made too much of a difference in terms of schedule. I spent my day working on blog posts, society stuff and I had an interview! Wish me luck!

Heritage in action! Isn’t this meta?

Day 14

Back in the muddy trench today. Started planning a feature in the trench which is difficult in the rain as it’s done with pencil and paper but then I got whisked away for some heritage tasks so luckily I didn’t have to struggle for too long! We worked on a booklet for children potentially visiting the site next week and poster for the public site tours. In the afternoon we got some filming done and took this majestic photo of me and Rose on the spoil heap (you can check out Rose’s blog at
https://horribleheritage.home.blog/ ). You can view the activity sheet below but I will make a post with all available resources closer to the end of our course.

Day 15

I had a great time today! Spend the morning trowelling and interviewing Caitlin the finds officer. Some of the stuff we’ve found is really amazing and I wish I could talk about it here but there’s rules about sharing things while it’s still on site so I might have to wait! We then spent the afternoon at the library planning and deciding what we’re doing for the public tours over the next week. A great end to the week. Shout out to Malton Library for letting us take over the corner of your floor.

That marks the end of week three! See you on monday for an exciting site interpretation post,

~Amy 🙂

Days 1-10

So we’ve reached the end of week two so now seems like a great time to update you all with what’s been going on!

First off: for a quick introduction I’m working on the very top trench. We’re not 100% sure what we’re looking at just yet but we do know we have some sort of rubble surface or collapsed building (aka an unarticulated pile of rocks) with a wall running to the south that may or may not be linked to something further down. We also have an old trench from the 1930s cutting through everything which has left us with excellent access to the stratigraphy (the layers in the soil which can be used to see how different aspects of the site build on top of each other) and from this we can see a red layer and black layer, though we’ve not 100% sure what caused them yet.

Day 1-3

Monday was a bank holiday so we had a late start but the first couple of days were largely similar. We spent most of the time removing topsoil which involves loosening it with a mattock and then shovelling it away to the soilheap. It’s very labour intensive work but it has to be done!

Day 4

Things start to get interesting. The morning was spent trowelling but then the heavens opened. Cue 100 archaeologists standing around dodging the lightning. Now I love a good storm from a window but from a field it’s an entirely different experience…

Day 5

Friday was a little more sunny. Our supervisor brought rocket lollies which was great! Mainly we were troweling, still not many great finds to speak of but the features are starting to emerge which is exciting!

Archaeology is better with lollies.

Day 7-8

Not much to report from these days. Monday I took off, tuesday we were in Kings Manor (the home of the Archaeology department) and wednesday I was doing heritage work from home.

Tuesday was the highlight of these days. We had some lovely talks by lecturers in the department about the nature of heritage and good outreach practices. I left the day motivated and with a couple of new blog post ideas so watch this space!

Day 9

We spent the morning in Malton Museum which was so lovely. We got to meet some of the volunteers who work there and spent some time looking at some of their outreach programmes such as the boxes they send out to schools. The highlight for me was being able to see the stores. They kindly showed us some of the items they had and we spoke about the logistics of keeping these items, how they’re catalogued and how they’re used. If you’re in the area I would highly recommend going down the museum and having a chat with one of the volunteers, they’re super friendly and really know their stuff. You can find more information here:
https://www.maltonmuseum.co.uk/

Also my parents came to visit and were given an extensive site tour. No pictures from that though you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Day 10

The start of the day brought some bad news: someone had come in the night and pulled out a number of grid-pegs. These are very important for working out the exact location of finds in the trench as well as plotting the features and they are time consuming to install as they need to be in the exact right location. This is great example of why heritage outreach is important. We need to teach the community to respect these sites as to avoid things like this happening.

In the morning we had a talk from James Taylor about stratigraphy: how it can be useful and how to record it. In the afternoon we had a man from Digging for Britain come and talk to us. BBC 4 have left us a camera to film our dig as the footage may be used by them in an upcoming episode. I’ve been interested in videography for years so this is something that I’m particularly excited about (regardless of if they use the footage or not, but obviously I hope they do). I might make a whole post about this later down the line so let me know if that would be something you’re interested in. Later we had a talk from our site director Steve Roskams about everything we’ve learned so far. If you want to learn more about the site he’s doing a public site tour on the 13th that anyone is welcome to comealong to.

We also had an appearance from our trench-cat! She appeared in week one and we named her Deventia (after the Roman name for Malton) but after some debate she was renamed Minerva. She’s super friendly and if you find yourself on site keep an eye out for her because she’s always happy to say hello.

Thanks for sticking with me I know this was a long one! If you’ve made it this far then comment down below any questions or feedback so I know you’re still paying attention! See you next time

~Amy 🙂