Rebecca Cadbury Simmons
Our first week at Binchester flew by! We welcomed the volunteers back on site on Tuesday morning, with many familiar faces turning up, as well as some people who hadn’t been to the site before. Tuesday morning saw us removing the tarpaulins from the site that covered the exposed archaeology between digging seasons. Once the tarps had been taken off, we started to de-weed the site, being careful not to damage any of the features as we went. Thankfully, the tarps had done their job and there weren’t too many weeds to deal with!
Once the site was clear, we set about cleaning the features that we had exposed last year. This involved everyone gently trowelling back to remove the layer of silt that had accumulated throughout the past 12 months. The volunteers were well practiced, and this was done much quicker than we thought, meaning we were soon able to start getting really stuck in.
We finished the season in 2018 having exposed and recorded the late 4th-century deposits, allowing us to now start removing those deposits to see what lies beneath. A road divides the trench neatly in two, on the eastern side of which there is a cobble spread the overlies the road. We have now started to lift this cobble spread to explore what the underlying features are. At one point, the spread has slumped into a ditch beneath it as the organic fill of the ditch has slowly rotted over the centuries and we’re looking forward to exploring this further! The southern end of the trench has revealed five postholes that would have made up a timber structure. Our volunteers have started excavating these, which is a new experience for all of them, but one that they soon got the hang of!
To the western side of the road, the 1st-century rampart has started to be exposed as we excavate into two corresponding ditches. Finally, in the north-west quadrant of the trench we have a stone building, of which we can see the external facing wall and stone flag floor. We have also found a large number of ceramic tiles within the building, leading us to believe that it had a tiled roof. So far, however, these hasn’t been any indication of what the building would have been used for.
We can’t believe how much we’ve found in just the first week, and we can’t wait to see what else we find as the excavation progresses. Remember to check back here for weekly updates and our social media for live updates as they happen!