don’t forget to follow new blog…

Hi all – the new blog is up and running – soon I won’t be able to post anything on here to alert you to new post as there’s so little room.  Could you follow the new one and I’ll keep this one as an archive for us all?

New post today re Roman roads –

Bye for now…Bloggerina


First day of spring, an eclipse, and now…..

The date: 21.3.2015

The time: 9.50 am

The place: Uppermill Civic Hall


Commiserations if you couldn’t be there… you missed a great day – it was a fine gathering of archaeologists (prof and am) looking at what Romans were up to when in t’ North, a sharing of projects, of triumphs, of frustrations, of hopes, of dreams, of wonderful archaeology, and of wonderful things.

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And the lovely audience enjoyed it too, here’s some of the backs of their heads!…


Here’s Norman Redhead and Mike Nevell from Salford Uni introducing the day……

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First up was Kurt Hunter Mann from York Archaeological Trust …. DSC_0448..talking about Ravenglass……


The project that Kurt discussed was carried out 2013 – 14, and involved no less than 35 hectares of magnetic survey… map of that shown here, find it at ..rir-lge-map

ravenglass-hero   This is the famous bathhouse at Ravenglass,


Kurt talked about the digging of 4 trenches, the first of which contained a road that went East from the site probably to Hardknott and Ambleside. The road had been previously seen as a possibility from aerial photography and was found to be well constructed in layers using lots of material that would make a good road surface.

They found evidence of dense occupation, a very fine building foundation and even the use of Skiddaw slate for roofing.

The second trench was industrial and the third contained building and occupational debris. The final trench was a possible boundary feature.  Overall they found much Samian, 2nd and 3rd C greyware, and mortaria.  In summary he felt that the site had shown complex occupation and networks, not just functioning as a port as previously thought.

Get more info on this at:  – seems a good site to keep an eye on for conferences generally as well as Ravenglass news/events.

Next up – Steven Rowland from Oxford Archaeology North, with news from the Maryport Roman settlement project, Cumbria 2013-14


This community dig also went over the two seasons 2013-14, with the aim of looking more closely at the civilian settlement in order to gain a fuller picture of ordinary life by the sea at Roman Maryport.

The site of an earlier temporary marching camp, Maryport is now understood as a fort from c. AD 120 to the 4th Century.  It is considered to be at the Western/Southern end of Hadrian’s Wall coastal defences, and an important part of the Northern frontier, possibly some sort of command centre.

floor maryport

One can always expect great things from Maryport and here’s an image of the archaeology, a beautiful building with a very fine floor in a central room, to support that!

Image from


Stephen said that the footings were wide enough to support a 2nd storey, slate-roofing, but not much tumble of stone so probably timber-framed?

Here’s a drawn image that Stephen showed us – find it at:

Building_Maryport_painting resize

Civilian finds were plentiful: Samian ware; a jet finger ring; a bracelet; querns; spindle whorls; cooking vessels; a cheese press… and also some military finds: a clump of chain-mail; and a spear-head.  Some possible Pictish carvings were discovered and part of an altar, probably domestic/portable.  I suppose it wouldn’t be Maryport without something of an altar – and here’s a lovely picture from Maryport’s altar collection just for interest.  Image taken from the bbc website as above.






The day continued with David Petts from Durham University, his talk was ‘Binchester Roman Fort’.

DSC_0473Binchester seems to be the iconic Roman fort – a large rectangular structure, the barracks for a cavalry regiment, corner tower, bread ovens in the walls.  And a good source of nicely dressed masonry for the population miles around.

But what a tremendous site to dig.

Here’s an image (from of a head of a probable deity, found by a student on his first day on site!!  Surely everyone’s dream.

headIt came out of a bathhouse which, it seems, had fallen out of use and from then used as a dump, so much so that it was filled with a huge amount of waste – David said the whole building was encased in rubbish, leading to exceptional preservation. (Reminder of Gobekli Tepe?) They found a great deal – big chunks of decorated plaster, lots of pottery ware, glass vessels, metalwork.  Also, simply sitting in the bathhouse, an altar or two importantly dating from late 4th Century, just left in place and covered with trash.

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Also found was a silver ring with an early Christian symbol, dated to the early 4th Century and having a significant place in the body of knowledge of the early Christian faith in Britain.

The site is backfilled now for the short term, but consolidated for future excavation over time.

This picture is also from the Binchester blogspot as above, definitely worth keeping your eye on for news…binchester

Last talk of the morning was our own Norman Redhead (Salford University) with the summary of the ‘Redefining Roman Castleshaw’ project started last summer.



Here he is on site last summer, standing in Trench 2, the most enigmatic trench you could wish for I believe.  (Aside from the one with altars, bathhouses, carved heads and early Christian rings.)

At the conference Norman went through the history of the site from Percival’s writing in 1751/2 –  I won’t go through this here as you can find the full history in the early pages of this blog.  Many of the photos taken during the dig and used at the conference are in these pages too… I’ll pick out a few for you, but for the rest just have a look back.  The dig ran for 4 weeks last summer, and Norman made the point that the weather was great every day for those weeks, except 2 rainy Saturdays (when he was there doing tours!).  This much sun is almost unheard of for Castleshaw and we greatly appreciated it!

We did training days for the volunteers and involved the local Key Stage 2 children.  We had over 130 adults working as volunteers for at least one day over the 4 weeks.  We had Duke of Edinburgh Gold Students working there. We had many visitors and did many tours. In this project we were only allowed to re-dig trenches from earlier digs, with a small amount of extension, but still, it was great.  So here’s the photos for you…. you really can find many in pages below.

Trench One…… DSC_0683DSC_0685 ramparts in Trench One





.A hearth in Trench Two…….



and the turf layers in the Eastern ramparts






The Eastern gateway postholes from drone, the strange stone pad and the start of the road to the East over to Slack.



To everyone involved the project seemed like a great success, and a strong platform for our next bid.

Reportage should be available in April.

After this it was questions for the morning speakers, and then…..

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DSC_0513(Slightly reminiscent of Trench One Castleshaw!)

First after lunch, Nick Hodgson from Tyne and Wear Museums, talking about Wallquest and recent community archaeology discoveries on Hadrian’s Wall.

DSC_0518Nick says there’s a bus that will take you the length of the Wall, with interesting stopping points.  Sounds like a fab day out to me.  He discussed sites at the Eastern end of the Wall, and even at Wallsend, where there had been a replica of the one at Chesters (on the Wall), the real bath house was discovered last year.  It was Hadrianic in type with hypercaust pillars still in place. An undoubted triumph.

Look at for more information.  How great for Nick to be able to say that Osbourne has just announced £500K for archaeological development at Wallsend!

Then came Mark Graham from Grampus Heritage on Discovering Derventio (Papcastle).


The site was discovered after the floods of 2009, which brought in their wake gravel deposits containing Roman pottery. Eventually this led to excavations and 168 km of magnetometry by volunteers.

The list of what was found is significant and impressive: a typical Roman house; with figurines; glass; spindle whorls; pottery; an early 2nd – 4th C Roman mill; with slate roof; a timber lined mill race; piece of an altar; pottery; courtyard building interpreted as a mansio; bathhouse (of course); a 2nd bathhouse (no!); an iron lamp stand 1.7m; a laconium (circular dry sauna); and a corpse.  The skeleton was identified as from the Roman period, locally born and raised.  He (?) had spina bifida – here’s a question – could he have been a human sacrifice?  At least there was evidence, even if unwelcome, of ‘ritual’ goings-on – libation cups, tiny artefacts for votive offering such as a small axe, a tiny lamp, a fine glass mosaic bowl and a copper alloy deer.  Then there were the heads and a plaque: this quite amazingly lifted casually on edge by a man with trowel and underneath was the carving of male figure.  The figure then interpreted as a ‘genius’ or spirit of the place.

Look at – there are many great photos of the above on there but they’re aren’t available for public use so I can’t get them for you.  Not only great photos but also general info like a day conference in York on Magic and Religion in Roman times – June 6th. This is one for me for sure – if only my niece wasn’t getting married on that day…perhaps she’d change it…?!

Mike Harding Brown was next, and who wasn’t sad to hear about the desperate state of the Melandra site?  It’s incredible that there was so much archaeology there, and now sadly covered or gone, for example – big stones, walls, cremation burials, an altar top, preserved leather, wood, bucket.  Some of these, Mike said, were taken to Manchester Museum but they were too expensive to keep preserved and so they were taken back to the site with the instruction that they should be buried in plastic bags. This was done and now that part is land-slipped.

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But afternoon break now….DSC_0511






Just time to look at the photo boards and stalls…




And two speakers left – first David Cockman from Huddersfield Archaeology Society, talking about their excavations at Slack Roman Fort 2007-10.

DSC_0440Echoed I’m certain by all present, David expressed discontent at the covering of Slack Roman Fort by a golf club and car park – and incredulity at how permission could have been gained for such a thing. We know there were walls and arches there and some great finds even by walkers around the moors and the motorway construction works, also, as David told us, an altar was found in Greetland. HDAS have done what they can around the perimeters though and in their excavations starting 2007 found a ‘sealed fresh water conduit’, a wonderful finding in the circumstances.  It was topped with the clay seal with flat stones making the conduit underneath, and greatly pleasing was the fact that there was still water going through it.  Carbon dating of some of the found wood gave a 95% probability of AD130 – 350, although the fort was supposedly abandoned in AD140.  An open question was from whence cometh the water… and a few possibilites were considered, most notably the field at Spring Head farm.  More work was done in the field at the other side of the motorway and more water courses found.  Reports may be on website soon,

The final talk of the day was by Ian Miller of Oxford Archaeology North and his talk was ‘Salt making in Salinae: excavations in Roman Middlewich’

DSC_0442 (2)In a developer-led excavation (site now under a housing estate) the possibility of Roman salt-making in Cheshire was under investigation.  The story had been in progress pre-2008 when several evaluation trenches had been dug – possible findings were Roman ditches, definite were a Samian bowl, mortaria, oxidized ware, grey ware. Nothing happened because of lack of money until 2012 when the call came to go back to the site. This time more trenches were dug and a Roman timber-lined brine well was discovered, the timber with a felling date of AD147-8.  Inside the well were, staggeringly, a quern stone with its metal pivot still in place, a folded lead sheet into which was tucked a piece of Samian dated to AD150-60.  This seems to put the use of lead boiling pans for salt to an earlier date than previously thought and possibly in confirmations was a dupondius of Trajan AD103-17.  A second oak timber-lined brine shaft was found and interpreted as a huge storage system dating to AD127-63. Also found were 2 brine boiling hearths and scrap lead, oak and ash charcoal and 40 kg of briquetage.  Incense burners found may give the impression of ‘ritual’ – a much used, much disliked word but possibly burning incense was quite a common occurrence!

Question time once more…. (yes all the speakers and presenters were men, but try not to worry)

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and surprisingly, as it was a full and long day, most of the audience were still with us for this!





Mike gave a vote of thanks to all the speakers, the Friends of Castleshaw Roman Forts, the caterers (Ravenstone), the Civic Hall staff, and all the audience, very much deserved!



And to Norman, a special vote of thanks, for having the vision to push on with the project, for driving us forward more or less all the time, for wanting to put on this conference, and for all his good-humoured dedication to Castleshaw.  Congratulations Norman, it was great, and here’s to the next one!

Fond regards to all you blog-followers and readers, hoping to be back soon

I am ever

Bloggerina x

2 Castleshaw Diaries, 118 years apart…

Hello again from your friendly neighbourhood modern antiquarian!  I have 2 diaries to tell you about today.  First – I left you in August saying I’d keep you up to date – so here’s a little diary of things that have gone on since then:

14.8.14 Workshop at the Museum – Archiving and Cataloguing with Sean and Joanne from Gallery Oldham.  Joanne talked first about creating and storing a paper archive, then Sean presented a session on material culture archives, showing us some of the Castleshaw material that they hold at Oldham.

15.8.14  First finds processing day at Uppermill Museum – some of the committee members undertook an initial sorting out the boxes of finds from the trenches.

Also in August Kirsty sent the paleoenvironmental samples to Durham University for analysis.  I’m guessing that this included the wood/post fragment from the post hole at the East Gate?….looking as wonderful as ever…….


17.9.14  ‘AGM’ at the Civic Hall – Followed by presentation by Norman on the summer dig – findings, interpretations and future strategy.

22.9.14  Second finds processing day at Uppermill Museum.

29.9.14  Third finds processing day at Uppermill Museum. On this day the finds to be analysed by experts were prepared, marked up, and subsequently sent away or delivered as appropriate.  From left to right – Sue, me, Vivien, Audrey, Kirsty.

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1.10.14  The last training sessions related to the dig – In the morning was ‘Understanding the Archaeology of the Roman Fort’ with Norman.  In the afternoon – ‘Roman Ceramic Building Material’ with Phil Mills.


The Second Diary extracts come from another antiquarian, this time one of poetic renown, the world famous Ammon Wrigley.  All finds shown in this section are from the Wrigley collection, photos taken by Phil Barrett, but if you want to reproduce one or more of them for any purpose whatsoever you must obtain permission in writing from Sean Baggaley at Gallery Oldham.  All diary extracts are from Wrigley (1912).

Here’s the picture of the redoubtable Mr Wrigley, who, in 1897, was reading the work of Percival from 1752 that I included in these pages (post # 2).


15.8.1897  Mr W says he was lazing about in one of the high fields above Broadhead and looking down across the valley, and suddenly saw the outlines of the ‘Roman Station’.  It seems that local historians knew of the camp, but none had been sufficiently interested to explore further, as he could find no record of any kind.  He measured it up and he says ‘to my great satisfaction’ it aligned with Percival’s (1752) plan … relevant segment shown here.

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(Percival 1752)

That afternoon he went with two chums and they confirmed it by re-measuring the area with a chain.  To those of you who doubted the importance of that (my) piece of chain – still heavily stuck in Castleshaw soil and sitting in a finds tray  – could it be this very chain ?!

Anyhow Ammon Wrigley went about gaining permission to dig from the owners, the Messrs Schofield, and he was allowed to dig on condition that the ground was ‘made good for the spring of 1898.’   He notes that in early October – ‘We sank trial holes in various parts of the camp area, and were rewarded by finding fragments of Roman tile and pottery. ….. It was decided that the work should be continued every Saturday afternoon if the weather permitted.’

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9.10.1897  ‘Begin explorations under the distinguished patronage of several immortal “roughyeds” from Oldham.’ They send an ‘envoy’ to the “Horse and Jockey” and he returns ‘with a large brown bottle on his shoulder…’ ‘I appoint myself Chief Controller of all liquids (water excepted) hereafter to be consumed on the Roman Station.’

‘Mallalieu finds a piece of red tile near the inner rampart, and creates a profound sensation; Oldhamer wants to fight him for it, – heated discussions and hostile demonstrations.’

Not sure if it was one of these, but it’s possible!

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‘I find a piece of tile and am forcibly deprived of it by Winterbottom.’

‘Winterbottom finds a piece of grey pottery,’…………………………….

DSC_0045 (2)  ….’and goes about with the dignity of a Co-op committee man who has just finished testing a new consignment of cheese. Another squabble, I am charged with attempting to “pinch” Winterbottom’s pottery and am warned off the field.’

It seems that they easily get back into high spirits with the aid of the ‘brown bottle’ and repair to an ale-house called the “Mop” (?) where plans are made for the next day.

10.10.1897  ‘Winterbottom and self arrive on the ground at 9.30 a.m. Find Schofield and Mallalieu performing hurricane work in the greater fort.  They ignore us, – look as if they owned the “blanking” Roman station.’

After trouble with Winterbottom – ‘The law of self-preservation demands that I should open a trench in another part of the field.  We work in silence…’  ‘I hear “cusswords” coming from a distant trench, Mallalieu and Schofield are holding an excited discussion over the possession of an old button – believed to be Roman; hope they are going to fight.  Winterbottom finds a piece of grey-ware bearing incised ornamentation, and we retire to the “Horse and Jockey” for lunch.  ……

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Lunch was cheese and dry bread with raw onion, clay pipes and twist for dessert, and fourpenny liquor to close.

Later that day – Under observation by a group of ‘Owdhamers’ bearing ‘ponderous volumes’ on Roman antiquities – ‘We dig for the next ten minutes in the most approved scientific manner; we are rewarded by finding a beautiful frog and several fine, healthy-looking worms,…’  ‘Work is continued, and we suddenly lay a piece of pavement bare, – trumpets, balloons, fireworks, and circus elephants!’  Mayhem does ensue and after clay being thrown about, Wrigley ‘roars his appreciation’ when Winterbottom falls over in the attempt to throw clay over Heights Chapel…. ‘am promptly stoned from the field;’  ….. ‘I am forgiven on condition that I carry all the spades, picks, etc., down to Castlehill.  We knock off for the day, the finds include the pavement and fragments of tile, pottery, and corroded iron.’

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16.10.1897   ‘Stormy meeting of directors…. breaks up in disorder.  We dig anywhere.  “Owdham Roughyeds” arrive.  Schofield behaves in an extraordinary manner; I gather he has discovered a large piece of amphora, probably part of a wine vessel; he believes

DSC_0047 (2)  that the wine cellar is not more than a yard away to the left.’ ……. ‘He claims an exclusive right to the trench.’

‘Oldhamers are permitted to watch the excavations on condition that they keep their hands off the finds. Winterbottom is going savagely round the field armed with a long, sharp-pointed iron probe; I keep out of his way, and wonder if he is fit to be at large.’

17.10.1897  ‘Tempestuous work in the inner fort by Schofield,…’  ‘Party of ladies arrive.’  ‘I hold a grand reception on the northern rampart….I explain its constructive values…and so forth. I make a great show of Latin terms used in connection with Roman stations: ….. all of which I had seen in books. I have not the faintest idea what the terms mean, but notice that my hearers are greatly impressed.’

21.10.1897  ‘I discover that the Roman relics which I had placed carefully away in a cupboard, at home, are missing.’  Wrigley asks his mother where they are and she says she’s thrown them on the midden.  ‘ “But they are Roman relics,” I say. “They look like Irish!” she answers. ‘Did you throw the Samian ware on the midden?” I ask.  “All the dirty lot!” she answers.’   ‘I spend a miserable half hour on the midden with the lantern.  At last I discover the best fragments almost buried under objectionable malodorous refuse.  I resort to strategy, and finally hide them upstairs.’

Here’s some of his very fine Samian.

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25.10.1897   Mr G F Buckley leases the field for a year, thus allowing Wrigley to continue with the dig.

Summer 1898  A number of diagonal trenches were opened near the inner fort, resulting in a visit by the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society.

May 1899   Wrigley contributes an article on Castleshaw to the Yorkshire Weekly Post, this subsequently appears in the ‘Antiquary’. Wrigley says ‘it was written with the object of calling attention to the Yorkshire Archaeological Society to the station in the hope that the Society would undertake further explorations…’   Here’s an extract from it –

“Many patches of well-worn cobble pavement may be seen running in various directions, and in some parts well crowned.  The pottery fragments include the red Samian ware, decorated with figures, etc., the border decoration being that generally called “cup and spear”; also pieces of amphora, with varieties of the black and grey wares.  A few of the latter fragments bear the well-known incised decoration of interlacing lines, while other pieces show a curious zigzag work in relief.  Four or five varieties of tile have been turned up – from a bright red to a white, some examples bearing a kind of geometrical design.” (Re-printed in Wrigley’s book referenced below, the reference of the article itself is not available at this point.)

From 1898 to 1907 Wrigley and co did ‘occasional digging on the site’.  At that point Samuel Andrew and Major Lees bought the land and quickly began comprehensive excavations, with Francis A Bruton. Of this Wrigley says ‘By doing this they earned, I hope, the thanks of every Saddleworthian who has any respect for the historical values of his homeland.’  Of his own work he says ‘A beginning is a beginning, if it is nothing else.’

I’ll leave you with a few more images of finds from the Wrigley collection.  And grateful thanks to Sean Baggaley, Director, Gallery Oldham, for allowing us to photograph the collection and to post a selection of images here.

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Catch you later blog-followers, fond regards, Bloggerina


Percival, T. 1752. Observations on the Roman colonies and stations in Cheshire and Lancashire. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, 47: 216-230.

Wrigley, A. 1912. The First Excavations of the Roman Camp at Castleshaw. In Ammon Wrigley, Songs of a Moorland Parish, 298 – 314. Saddleworth: Wrigley.


Closing without ceremony….

Nearly a week since the dig ended and doesn’t it feel strange!  But I’ve collected a few photos to help us close up ….

Saturday 2nd, in the pouring rain, Norman did 2 tours – one for Mellor Archaeological Society ……….DSC_0677…………and one for the Greater Manchester Archaeological Federation – (it was even wetter by then…)DSC_0686

Norman gave a resume of the end-of-dig archaeological findings..DSC_0681…this is Trench 2, with its enigmatic archaeology, full of potential for the next round,

and here is Trench 1….DSC_0683  ….with its roads, barrack blocks, burnt areas suggesting banks of ovens, and the no-ditch situation at the far end –


Can’t resist showing you the gyrocopter photo of Trench 6 again as it’s so spectacular, and reminding you of the amazing and mysterious structures appearing in the last week!

_MG_0069_Copyright_Suave_Air_Photos… here’s something you may not have seen before – it’s a piece of the wood found in the base of the post-hole dug by Marc, not the piece in the bucket that I showed you last week but an even better one –

(this photo by Sue) –KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA – think of this, it’s the actual wood of the post that was put into a post-hole dug somewhere around AD 79 in order to make the East Gate entrance to the Agricolan Fort.

The other images I can’t resist showing you again now are these –DSC_0286 – yes it’s the turf wall base of the Eastern rampart…… 2014-07-18 14.50.53

And here’s the 18th Century cottage, excavated by the Key Stage 2 children of Saddleworth, looking fabulous having been tidied up for its photo –



Today – I went up to site for you,

DSC_0695…… show you how it looks now….

DSC_0697  – Trench 2

Trench 1 – DSC_0698

DSC_0700 …Trench 1 from the other end looking up at the ramparts

Trench 6 and the East Gate…..DSC_0703 with a nice white marker boulder?!

DSC_0705 – the Via Praetoria – then looking the other way – towards the East Gate…DSC_0710

DSC_0708 – here’s the cottage of course,

and then I left, via a lovely Road! …DSC_0714DSC_0715 – and here’s the site from afar, just about to have the last of its cabins taken away.

Goodbye Castleshaw, till next time.

In the next few weeks I’ll bring you some of the highlights of the dig, just to keep the memories alive!

Your faithful Bloggerina

1.8.14 – Week 4 Day 5

And so it’s the end of the dig.

Great to end though with some fabulous photos for you from Greg the Gyrocopter man…couldn’t have timed it better for going out on a high (!).  All the photos from Greg are copyrighted.

.._MG_0042_Copyright_Suave_Air_Photos – here’s an unusual view from overhead – from the NW

_MG_0069_Copyright_Suave_Air_Photos…. Trench 6: postholes, darker marks of Bruton/Andrew/Lees trenches, the feature at the edge of the trench bottom middle, the direction of the road to the right…

_MG_0133_Copyright_Suave_Air_Photos….. Trench 1: the whole glorious 80 m of it, with 4 roads, a rampart, building slots and all manner of activity.

_MG_0126_Copyright_Suave_Air_PhotosTrench 2: watch this space for more information!

_MG_0140_Copyright_Suave_Air_Photos…beautiful overview of the 4 trenches.

As for today it was a busy busy time, cleaning, photographing, drawing, levelling, visitors to show round …. here’s some photos from ground level to say goodbye…

DSC_0659 – a complete drawing of Trench 1, expertly done under John’s tuition and held up in the wind and rain by John, Sue, Linda and Richard!

DSC_0663 Sonia packing up…

Adam and Vicky reviewing the situation..DSC_0664

DSC_0667.. Trench 1, so many hours of work from so many willing people, now, at the end of it all, quiet and alone.


And finally it’s Vicky, wheeling her stuff away.  But the end quote goes to her!  She says – ‘don’t think you’re getting rid of me that easily – I’ll be back!’    A great big thank you to Vicky and her team, it was great knowing you, and yes!… please come back soon.

One day next week I’ll talk to Vicky and get her post dig ‘cogitations’ on the archaeology and also I’ll get you a folder of notable finds and notable anything else.

A HUGE AND GRATEFUL THANK YOU, from the committee, to all the volunteers who made this dig possible and who gave so much, through extremely hot to pretty wet weather, no toilets, no water, and anything else that could have got you down….. we couldn’t have done it without you!

Farewell for now, your Bloggerina






31.7.14 – Week 4 Day 4

Arrived at site today just in time for the gyrocopter man’s second run…missed the first but Norman may send me some more pictures tomorrow..  gyrocopter man is Greg, Australian, and runs his own company from Ashton-in-Makerfield.. Vicky got to help him and they wear headsets through which they can see the ground as if they were up there in the ‘dragonfly’… in the second picture spot the take off – if you didn’t know already you can usually enlarge the picture by tapping/clicking on it..

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DSC_0628..DSC_0630DSC_0631 here is Greg with Norman looking at the results…I should be able to bring you a few in the next day or two.  Greg says that he took images from 8 compass points at an oblique angle, then did shots straight down, then the whole area, then the three trenches: 6; 1; 2.  Vicky said that looking through the headset was an amazing experience, quite brilliant, and virtually indescribable.

But there was archaeology going on as well, and here’s a quote from John on what’s happening in Trench 1: ‘Recording, recording, recording, recording and recording!’

DSC_0659 here’s John, getting praise from archaeologists on the high quality of his recording, and as this is his last day here’s his drawing as well.DSC_0658

and here’s Samantha with her drawing of the East Gate post-holes….DSC_0632….DSC_0633GetAttachment..and here she is actually drawing it (Sonia’s photo)

Just wait till you see those post-holes a bit closer up!  But first the road further E

(so Trench 6) …DSC_0635 –  Vicky’s going to have sleep deprivation over this she reckons… for it’s looking like there’s two road surfaces here, the one with the larger flatter stones going under the other one that we’re well used to seeing now… and part of it is delineated with the space?  It’s possible that this part on the bottom right of the picture is the standing for the tower I mentioned yesterday…


GetAttachment…Cliff doing a fab job trowelling this majorly interesting feature!  (Sonia’s photo)

And now the wonderful post-hole…


… with Marc, who excavated it – and what you can see here is Bruton’s top wide cut looking for the post-hole, then the bedrock – the flat stone shelf, then the cut through it by the Romans.  Bruton didn’t get down this far, we know because his fills can be recognized now, but you’re looking at the base of the post-hole and at the bottom of it was wood in the clay layer, just as in the clay layer at the bottom of the ditch in Trench 1.

In this bucket is the wood in the clay/mud – trust me it’s really there…


And look who’s back in Trench 2 – yes,’s Rachel!DSC_0652..and here’s Marija, with my Neolithic structure, and Margaret with a very odd clay feature… sadly she can’t be back tomorrow to finish it..

…………………. DSC_0653DSC_0647..these are Sonia’s legs, she’s had a day of it with the hard-packed surface to the left, but getting in there now, and there’s the semi-concrete surface to the right, looking so like a Neolithic house floor (Ancient Near East).

Also this morning…..

GetAttachment ..we had a visit from HLF personnel Nick Herepath and Elise Turner, and also from Andrew Davidson, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments.  We really hope that they liked what they found!

Good night then, until tomorrow, when we shall be parting, such sweet sorrow. (Apologies to Will).

But I won’t be leaving you for long, for I’ll keep you up to date for years to come!!

Yours, Bloggerina

30.7.14 – Week 4 Day 3

Doing this blog job feels a bit like panning for gold…. and every day I find some for you, even if very tiny!

But no need to look hard today for first up was the gold nugget training workshop with Ruth Leary, Roman pottery expert. We had a very interesting talk indeed followed by a session on how to record pottery finds… sorting/identifying/measuring/ and so on.  I’m pretty confident that everyone there thoroughly enjoyed it.  Thanks ever so much Ruth and we hope to see you again soon.



Here is our mystery object…DSC_0527…having just had its drop of lemon juice administered, by me, for the ‘weak acid solution’ test – if it fizzed the inclusions would be x, or y, … if it didn’t fizz they would probably be z…. where z is fuel-ash slag. It didn’t fizz – so the answer is that the inclusions in the pottery are probably fuel-ash slag! ….which makes it possible Pre-Roman, but nothing definite yet, maybe more tests later.  By the way just out of interest did you know that Pre-Pottery Neolithic people in Ancient Near East put such mixtures into lime plaster to temper it?  And that the fuel-ash could have been from a variety of sources including sacrificial feasting?


Fantastic piece of pottery though?  Incidentally this came from our test-pitting in Ella’s garden and I must tell you that she’s fallen downstairs top to bottom and is badly bruised, but nothing broken thankfully.  I’m putting the photo of her here again so that you can think of her.



Back at the museum – Carol showed us some of the archive from previous digs at Castleshaw as well as related donations from the area and we have now our second mystery object….DSC_0531

..this is it being put together from the several pieces that it is now… DSC_0532..and here is how it would look if intact –


– any ideas?  It’s white like quartz inside and is quite marble-ized on the outside, cool, smooth and shiny.  It has a hole in the top.  Answers on message pad here please!

Now up to Castleshaw for lunch and here’s the promised picture of the piece of Samian found by Sue last night….DSC_0546

 Trench 6 is the happening place today, and it was being supervised by Sarah… who came back to see us because she likes it up here!  DSC_0555… And her band of workers were doing good stuff – Marc losing himself in posthole – chairman staring at ground – another posthole being excavated….

.DSC_0550DSC_0554DSC_0551… and look below at the jutting out bit of Via Praetoria – now looking like another road shooting off to the North…though Sarah thinks it may well be a hard-standing place in front of an East Gate tower.  Not sure whether we would have time or permission to find out.


DSC_0560 here’s the other side of the road looking even more as though it swerves off, at least in one phase, over to the right.. and the feature at the other corner of Trench 6 is looking much like the terminus of the looked-for ditch.


And I can tell you that the finds tray from this context, collected by Linda and Alison, is looking full of very interesting ditch fill.

Here’s the best bit though – half a melon bead!  This one is verging dark green from turquoise and not sure if glass, paste, faience, or ceramic. Excavated by Linda, lucky Linda.



Day 4 awaits!  B

By the way if anyone has emailed me on the address it hasn’t got here – someone did and it didn’t arrive – write again with message to the page if possible   B



29.7.14 – Week 4 Day 2

Bits of this and that today – with one major change – it was cloudy and it rained!

This is Ruth Leary, the pottery expert, who came as preparation for a training morning tomorrow – DSC_0485 – here and below she’s looking at the mystery object… but no solution yet – in fact the pot needs a ‘weak acid’ solution test and will probably be having it as we speak.  More news hopefully tomorrow.

DSC_0486   DSC_0484

Ruth looked through all our pottery finds, below she’s looking at the mortaria piece found yesterday and at some of the Samian ware.

DSC_0488           DSC_0489

Then the press arrived (Oldham Advertiser) and here’s Sue having her picture taken holding the flint tool she excavated in the first week.  Of all the flint found in these weeks it’s the only one that at the moment can definitely be said to be a tool…

DSC_0495                    DSC_0498


As for the digging – at the East end of Trench 6 it’s beginning to look like the direction of the road has been changed at some point


… the sandier bits are where the road has been robbed out and the line of the road veers away to the right as you can see.

Marc has been working up at the post-hole end… more on that tomorrow –  this picture tells you is how much more comfortable digging has been today = cool/wet/happy


In Trench 1 John says the cleaning up went well and they have a good set of photographs for the record – now excavating some of the features… and right at the end of the day Sue found the biggest piece of Samian we have excavated to date – picture tomorrow.

The ditch in Trench 7 is now being clarified, but, as mystical as ever, Trench 2 is still giving us things to think about.

DSC_0504          DSC_0512

Here Vicky is showing a part that needs trowelling back in association with two areas of burning just where they’re standing that are different from one another… and there’s one of the burnt areas near the stone going under the surface – a surface that looks a little bit like concrete/terrazzo.

DSC_0507 – you can see the length of this ‘terrazzo’ feature stretching in front of where Jacqui is standing, and at the other end is a distinct pavement-like feature – just below the edge of the boots…


DSC_0510   DSC_0515

The tray contains pieces of mortaria as well as raindrops – the other picture is of my favourite hearth, now with samples taken from it and already looking like it contains organic residue …. both things lead Vicky and Jacqui to think that this area may be the kitchen area, and this would be of the Commandant’s house, said to be situated in this part of the first fort.

That’s all for today, stay tuned…back tomorrow!  B

28.7.2014 – Week 4 Day 1

Well here we are in the last week!  Seems to have gone fast but at the same time longer than three weeks ….. still lots of diggers raring to go every day even in the blazing temperatures we’ve been having…Trench 1 pretty well full of them today –


In fact Trench 1 has been having its big clean-up ready for photographs – but still a couple of features emerging which I’ll tell you about tomorrow.  Here’s the bit where the ‘portico’ stands with a service road at one side of it and the intervallum at the other, I know you’ll agree that it’s looking wonderful!


Just a bit further up, near where Sue is trowelling…and believe me she’s v hot and v dusty.. looks a bit like a chimney sweep under that hair- DSC_0473…a great piece of probably mortarium has been excavated……here’s John holding it so that you can see the profile and rim…


and here’s another view…DSC_0477

Over in Trench 2 Vicky and Sonia were finally getting to grips with working out the Thompson trenches and relationships between features.  Vicky says it’s done, all down to Sonia’s magic touch!  DSC_0464

So here’s one of the questions re Thompson’s trench cleared up –DSC_0468

and here’s another, running right under the surface as you can clearly see..


and under the hard-standing surface mentioned last week is ?- look on the right-hand side of the photo and you’ll see a flat stone disappearing?  How exciting is that!? DSC_0466

Sonia and Vicky think that the feature is general industrial activity some time after the big fort is closed, but attached to the fortlet… ?  Do we have time to find out?

Anyhow… just as I arrived at Trench 2 this afternoon they were measuring, as in this photo…….DSC_0463

to ascertain the findspot for – guess what – yes, another melon bead!

And here it is – DSC_0481

It’s been a busy organizing day in the finds cabin –   here’s the melon bead sitting waiting to be filed in its rightful place – DSC_0482

and after that everything is ready for Ruth Leary, who’ll be visiting tomorrow to tell us more about the other pottery that we have.  We have a piece of mystery pot (that I’ll show you tomorrow) and we’re hoping that Ruth can tell us all about it …..can’t wait!


Iam non erit vobis in cibum amicitia  (friends, it’s time for food)