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 🙂