2013 Season Updates
So far this season work has concentrated on the “shrine” and the bank and ditch site, particularly the latter. We have continued to remove the upper fills of the wide ditch, and we are now about a metre down and into Roman levels, beneath the 18th century silt deposits. There is still a lot to go I suspect as we haven’t started on the collapsed bank material.
There are tantalising fragments of what appear to be prehistoric pottery, and in the matter of the date of the ditch the balance is tipping in favour of iron age. We have also found the narrower ditch running parallel to the east side of the bank, which was indicated by David Sabin’s geophysical survey, and just about where he said it would be. It has produced prehistoric pottery but no Roman pottery (yet), so may also be iron age.
We have also started washing the finds on site, using the caravan kindly donated by Karin Castle (many thanks to her and the work parties who prepared it for its role on site). Anybody who would like to get involved on site but doesn’t want to actually dig is very welcome to come and assist in this essential part of the excavation process.
Throughout August we will be getting to grips with the large pit under the Roman shrine, while continuing to investigate the bank and ditches in the long trench.
Update 2 – September 2013
In the 2013 long trench (Trench 10, or Site 3) we have bottomed the narrow ditch at the east end, it’s about a metre deep, steep-sided and flat-bottomed (see attached picture 1), and very definitely pre-Roman in date, probably iron age. The three burials we found in the very top fill of the ditch – two cremations and a possible baby inhumation – may seem significant in that we only excavated 2m of the ditch and found three burials. However that may just mean that the soft ditch fill was more easy to dig a hole in than the rock, which is very close to the surface.
Still in Site 3 at the west end we continue to excavate the wider ditch, which seemed at one stage to be a narrower one than David Sabin’s geophysics suggested, but David’s interpretation has been vindicated as we realised that a very hard stoney layer was not the western edge but a upper deposit in the ditch fill. We are now back to a 7-8m wide ditch, already over a metre deep and still in Roman deposits (see picture 2). Now we seem to be in silt deposits (very few finds) rather than deliberate backfilling with rubbish (lots of bones, stones and some pottery fragments). There is still a way to go, and as we get deeper the effort needed to get the soil out is greater! On the outer edge of the ditch are several features – a very nice post hole, and a stone-filled slot, both with Roman material in their fills (see pictures 3 and 4). Unfortunately the narrowness of our trench means we can’t put these into the wider context they need to interpret them.
In the “shrine” trench (Site 2) the area we opened this year to search for a possible ambulatory around the circular building has shown no evidence of one, despite several nice post holes turning up, with packing stones and padstones of re-used masonry and burnt stones (see picture 5). Unfortunately they don’t make a pattern we can interpret as a structure.
We have begun to remove the stones at the north eastern end of the shrine wall to get access to the pit under the wall (see picture 6), and it has confirmed that this part of the building was constructed using re-used masonry and burnt stones. It’s clear that this part of the wall was built starting from the west and working eastwards, judging by the slope of the large foundation stones. In the foundation trench for the wall was a new sherd from the Beaker pot found last year, and this confirms the direction of the build, as the builders would have disturbed the beaker pit as they worked their way round, and unwittingly incorporated this sherd in their foundation trench, a little to the east of the beaker pit.
On the original Site 1 we recently returned to investigate the interior of Building 2 (see picture 7 for interpretive plan), which had some sort of furnace or oven in one half of it. Also the previous thinking that Building 2 was timber built with padstones rather than sleeper walls has had to be revised, as we have found a continuous run of stones clearly representing a sleeper wall. It is very damaged with missing stones, as are the other walls, giving the misleading picture we had previously. There is also work required to confirm the 2-room interpretation of Building 2 as shown on the plan, the north western half is still a little conjectural. At a recent talk to the Kenilworth History and Archaeology Society one of the members raised a query about the width of Building 1, and how the roof would have been supported — how indeed? our trench does not extend far enough across the footprint of the building to pick up evidence of aisles or central posts. Possible work for the future?
We have managed to do some finds washing on-site, which has kept the finds backlog under control. Many thanks to all who have helped so far this season. Plenty more to do in September and October ………
October 2013 Update 3
The weather has been kind to us over the whole season, and we are keen to make the most of what remains of the autumn, so please keep coming to help us unravel more of Warmington’s early history.
November 2013 update 4