Many archaeologists rarely work on excavation sites, but to fully understand the material or data that they work with they need to have a good understanding of the contextual information revealed through excavation. Therefore, as part of our internal training, NAA organises regular fieldtrips for its office-based and survey teams that allow them to visit live excavations. This enables a better understanding of excavation processes and, more importantly, comprehension of the composition of features identified through either desk-based or geophysics investigations, or the context from which finds or environmental deposits are located.
It was a bright clear morning when our eight intrepid office dwellers made their way to a site visit. After a full induction to the site, high-vis jackets were donned, and the site tour began. The site in question, was a wet muddy expanse of what basically equated to a large greenfield area in a built-up part of town.
As fieldwork was coming to an end, this was an opportunity to go see a site where copious environmental soil samples and some interesting finds had originated from (such as the Roman Dolphin intaglio featured in one of our previous Finds Friday posts). The site has some interesting features, such as Roman road surfaces and a couple of possible well-like structures.
Our archaeobotanist, Dr Jonathan Baines, was looking forward to this trip so that he could observe the local flora and check on soil conditions, such as drainage and erosion. This allows them to discount modern contamination and intrusive material in the soil samples. Typical candidates were nettle, goosefoot, orache, veronica and elderberry (Sambucus). He also checked a couple of sections that looked charcoal rich, but was able to demonstrate that these were actually just degraded coal flecks.
All in all, it was a very insightful visit and a fun trip out from the office!