22.7.14 – Week 3 Day 2

 Geo-phyzz days – in the wet, and in the dry

First – the wettest Saturday you could have and still continue – and it was the day of the Bradford GSB team’s offer to test their new (expensive) equipment on a survey of the challenging N side of the fort outside the ramparts.  (Pictures of the wet Saturday by Phil Barrett)

DSC_0346 …

Setting up..

DSC_0349 - Copy

Beginning the challenge….

………..DSC_0396….DSC_0375 - Copy…Ending the challenge…

Contrary to what you might believe from Facebook the water did penetrate some of their equipment but they didn’t use or wreck their very expensive new machine – much too wet and much too risky – but they have said they’ll come back another day!  It’s a great opportunity for us to have a team such as this working with us and watch this space for more news.

Tameside Archaeological Society (TAS) were also with us in the rain and brought some results of their surveys over the past weeks.  It’s incredibly difficult terrain for their equipment, but still there are clear results to see and interpret…although you can’t see the results on this photo at least you get a good impression of the wet and how happy they are with their findings!

…….DSC_0402 John and Greta with the printouts

Today we were very pleased to have TAS back again to give us a workshop on resistivity and magnetometry geophysical surveying… this time on one of the hottest days that you could have and still continue!

DSC_0579….Setting up,

measuring out the grids…

 DSC_0591  DSC_0589

DSC_0601 ..John getting ready to go with the resistivity survey..

The picture below is taken from the boards at the site of the fortlet – the part that’s being surveyed in the workshop is predominantly the Commander’s quarters – i.e. the building with the red roof…


Here’s Jasmine having a go….




Stephanie…….DSC_0612DSC_0618  and Edwin

Then we had a swap round and Keith explained magnetometry to this group…



but it was not actually possible to do the survey as it can’t be done by anyone wearing metal of any kind, unless it’s titanium…

Meanwhile back in the trenches – Trench 2 was being cleaned this afternoon for detailed photos tomorrow – it has some lovely photogenic post-holes as you can see below –

DSC_0593… and also an enigmatic black feature in Thompson’s pit ….


One of the post-holes in Trench 6 – where you saw Terry digging yesterday – has revealed more stone packing and a Roman layer, previously undisturbed by the Bruton/Andrew/Lees team – shown by the lack of the usual debris from that era. Jenny is digging it now and all are hoping that the bottom of the post-hole can be reached, and best of all with a Roman deposit at the base.

DSC_0627 Here’s Jenny…

…and here’s a little further along the road, where the blacker surface around the jutting out stone feature is not drying out like the other surfaces, possibly signalling the terminus of the ditch by the ramparts –


DSC_0623 Here’s Sue pretending to be a Roman seller of wares by the roadside… actually she’s minding some of the nicer finds that we laid out for today’s group of visitors – a group of trainees from Jubilee Colliery HLF Community Excavation.

And finally –DSC_0633……….there’s drawing going on!  This is John doing his drawing of the Via Principalis where it’s been revealed as cut through by Thompson at the W end of Trench 1.

Cras autem reverteris, Bloggeria (tomorrow Bloggeria will return)


21.7.14 Week 3 Day 1

Well here I am after all – managed to do it on my small computer – I fear that the big one is in some trouble!

~ Anyhow, today’s dig starts with Kirsty who is also an archaeologist with CfAA and the finds specialist… she did a preparatory assessment of all the finds, clarifying/ adding information as she went. I’m happy to say that the brooch that may have been a coin is now a brooch again, and she showed me in the magnifier a lovely ring of something green- coloured on it.  Can’t photograph that image for you – we don’t have the technology on site! but will show you the chunk of metal tomorrow.  Our prehistoric pot cum shale is possibly a bit of both – that’s so cool… and we may have a transitional piece of pot…Iron Age Late Pre-Roman… even cooler!  Yes it’s that one Norman.

Here she is at work..DSC_0530

DSC_0531 and giving you a smile and a hello!

Our beautiful sod-wall in Trench 7 was extended a little today by Steve, here’s a picture from Friday –


and here it is now taken further along to what Steve says is thought to be the end, just where he’s trowelling….


Here’s one of the lovely post-holes in Trench 6, at the Gateway – a little bit more cleaned up since you last saw it…. DSC_0541

and here’s Terry sat in the other one….DSC_0543

The image below is the bit that under his leg as you see above… it’s a very robust piece of stone, the packing fill still wedged into the space for the post.  The next question for Terry to solve is what’s underneath it.

DSC_0550  DSC_0551

Couldn’t resist showing you another picture of the road surface in the area of the entrance to the Gateway, a lot tidier now and looking quite magnificent.

………………… DSC_0545


And so to Trench 1

DSC_0554 DSC_0570

This is Paul and Edwin, Edwin is an archaeology student, investigating the beginning of the interior of the ramparts with the aim of finding where the fill stops and the natural starts. There’s two archaeological features in there, although no certainty yet what they are – one part of one of them is showing at the top of the picture (the one with just the trench) above.

Further along, Jacob and Ben were trowelling the levels for signs of construction slots or other, and there may be a post hole in that section, more tomorrow.  Jacob is just graduated in Ancient History and Ben is from Droylsden, a first year student in Ancient History.  When you add Sonia in there with her MPhil then it’s a very educated trench!


Meanwhile Sonia is finding a possible linear construction slot – there’s a possible association with the hearth that you can see at the top right hand corner of the image below, and a possible similar feature at the other side.


One of the roads in Thompson’s trench runs along the bottom edge of the photo and it’s possible that the feature shown is a roadside building of some sort.  It’s easy to imagine it as a type of portico fronting on to the road, and the hearth as a small cooking facility, or part of a much bigger undertaking.  Sonia has found more grey-ware today in this feature.

And finally the wondrous Trench 2 – with more confusing things happening today, but here’s a picture of Sue at the end of the day looking for all the world like she’s just out for a sunny day stroll.  Here’s the road though, and yes she’s been cleaning that up all day long!

  DSC_0574  DSC_0578

As it seems a short blog today, and I made you wait for it, I’ve added in a few bonus bites from the Greater Manchester Archaeological Unit who dug here in the eighties.

GMAU 1987 revealing the Principia  here’s the Via Principia just for a comparison… and, in case you were thinking how hot it’s been for the dig, it could be worse!  Here’s a site visit in 1986…..

…………GMAU school visit winter 1986

And here’s a Roman Legionary watching over them as they dig… sure, he could be watching over us too?

………….Roman Legionary ghost watching the dig

All photos from the GMAU archive courtesy of Norman Redhead at GMAAS.

That’s all for now, but I’m not going into that room where the other computer is – by now there’ll be tendrils coming out of it – the kind that get you round the neck……

Tomorrow it’s Tameside Archaeological Training Day!

Your Bloggeria





18.7.14 – Week 2 Day 5

Here’s some feedback from Evie – one of the children who came on the dig last week:

Today I went to Castleshaw with class 3. I thoroughly enjoyed the dig and the walk. We were working on Romans. On the dig I found two bent Roman nails!

The walk was also great, that was all until one of the sheep charged at us! Well anyway there was a wishing well there. By the well there was a stone path we all peered down the crack in the stone and the water ran down it.

I love archeology and I’m glad I got the chance to come to Castleshaw, Evie

Thank you for sending that to us Evie, it makes us happy to know that you enjoyed it.  Hope to see you again some time soon!

The week finished again with a tour of the site by the archaeologists and I’m just going to summarize that for you here.  In Trench 6

2014-07-18 14.44.34… a picture of two of the post-holes at the East Gate – but John says ‘they’re not behaving in the same way’ and he’s got questions about them… to be looked at next week.

This an image of a good stretch of the part of the road that is the Gateway to the fort and the beginnings of the road that is the communication system from Manchester to Slack …and seems to have a joining road or fill just about where John is standing, he’s in the hi-vis jacket…


he tells us that he’s wondering whether Bruton’s loop road around the fortlet is not a deliberate loop road but possibly the re-use by the Roman ‘trunk road’ builders of a part of the E-W road in the fort… and the question arises whether it is built on a fort service road.

The story of Trench 7 continues… 2014-07-18 14.50.53 DSC_0286 as explained yesterday…in this image you can see the rise of the ramparts as they’re built up over the turf layers.

Trench 1 at the Eastern end is still posing questions… you can see below the fill of Thompson’s trench and to the left the impacted clay – in between is a gully running at an angle, and Prof Thompson did record a gully here, and now the questions are about keeping an open mind about whether Thompson was in fact right to think that there was no ditch. This is very complicated archaeology and is work in progress. 2014-07-18 14.53.07DSC_0316

Standing with his back to us in the image above is Daniel, who was praised highly by John for his hard work in this trench this week.  And questions are hidden in the two images below about the intervallum road, the burning, the edges of the road, construction slots, and more!  Stay tuned, I’ll work harder at getting better report next week.

2014-07-18 15.01.00  2014-07-18 15.05.12

It’s Rachel’s last week and we’re very sad to see her go!  Here she’s giving her report about Trench 2 which she’d like to take with her really.

2014-07-18 15.11.19

2014-07-18 15.07.07  DSC_0325

 The trench is full of features.  Three of Thompson’s trenches are within this area and 2 are clearly found, with the third as a potential now.  To the bottom right is the one of his trenches that is being excavated currently.  One big area of interest was his find of the Beaker pottery and therefore prehistoric activity. Whilst there are no prehistoric features yet, there are flint finds, and many other features: for example the nicely laid road; its relationship with activities in this area of the fort; building slots; areas of burning; potential post-holes or post-pads. As well as the flint there was the lovely find of the half melon bead, pictured yesterday, and the tile from one of the post-holes.  Promises much for next week!

2014-07-18 15.07.17 2014-07-18 15.07.42 2014-07-18 15.12.31  Sorry to see you go Rachel!


DSC_0338 And so to the finds… we’ve had a lovely week sorting them out and getting them organized… and hope you’ve like the occasional image of them!

Happy weekend!  B






17.7.14 – Week 2 Day 4

It was a beautiful day up at Castleshaw today, no wind, bright sky and lovely clouds, but 26 degrees is not ideal for digging!

Still, many hardy people set to – some things continued as before and one spectacular new feature is exposed… of which more later.

But first – this day was the last day for school party involvement and here’s a flavour of what the experience has been like for them…below a picture of Rob, education archaeologist, waiting quietly in the yurt for the group to arrive so he can begin his introductory teaching…

………… Rob in Yurt ready to teach…(this photo courtesy of Norman)…

but quiet time can’t last……….

2014-07-11 12.40.35…..2014-07-11 12.41.00 ……………………….2014-07-11 12.40.25

Here’s a group on the way up the hill to the forts….2014-07-17 12.47.422014-07-17 12.47.53  how to win the race to the top….2014-07-11 13.33.31…digging with Sarah (education archaeologist)

…..then a bit more teaching…2014-07-17 10.17.19

Being a Roman soldier x 3…….2014-07-17 12.31.51

2014-07-17 12.32.21   2014-07-17 12.32.48

Trowelling at last……………2014-07-17 10.47.022014-07-17 11.08.34…finding glass

and stones……2014-07-17 11.09.56

…………. a bit of washing finds…2014-07-17 14.30.41

2014-07-17 11.10.36……….and just having fun.

Many thanks to all the Saddleworth primary schools for your involvement and to all the children who took part.  We hope you enjoyed it…. and that at least a few of you want to be archaeologists some day!

Back in the trenches – Trench 6 belonged to Sue and Anne!  They had a post-hole each – and look happy even at the end of this no-cakes baking day. The stones that Anne has exposed are probably not about the Roman post-hole fill but about the Bruton/Andrew/Lees fill….. more another day on this.

——————–2014-07-17 14.52.50 —2014-07-17 14.53.45

 Trench 1 continued much as before, with archaeology relating to the fort proving elusive. Some lead, nails and hobnails have surfaced today and 3 or 4 linear features.  The ditch at the E end has been hard work, with a probably drain emerging, but only slow resolution of the structural feature complex.

Some of the people in Trench 1 – John..2014-07-17 15.10.33

and his action shot … 2014-07-17 15.11.02

2014-07-17 14.58.51 and Alison further along

Trench 2 was having a quieter day …Thompson’s trench is work in progress now but this is a picture of one of those post-holes from the other day looking great now and yielding a piece of nicely embedded tile on this day

………………………2014-07-17 15.05.32…but here are a few extra pictures from Norman of Tuesday in trench 2 – you can tell it’s not today as all three, Jayne, Lynsey and Jacqui, are wearing thick layers-  Jayne Lindsey Jacqui Trench 2

Rachael contexting features Trench 2 – + Tuesday’s picture of Rachel contexting in there


Now.  Trench 7.  Known to me previously as the trench that this famous Roman saying was made for – prefer et obdura; dolor hic tibi proderit olim (be patient and tough; some day this pain will be useful to you).  Today it’s per aspera ad astra – through difficulties to the stars!

2014-07-17 15.44.53..2014-07-17 15.44.00

Castleshaw170714 (5) and Norman’s own close up image…

For those who don’t know, you’re looking at Roman sods, cut and piled in the construction of the rampart. The black lines are the grass and the clay is the earth in between. You’ll see the individual one at the front outlined with the black… just a thought Norman – could this mean that this one is upside down – and that some of it could be built with grass to grass and earth to earth?  As we stack grass in excavation often?

This is not the base though, more to dig and there’s still fill to come out further down the trench.  Incidentally it seems that Trench 7 may now be more Thompson than Bruton.

Here’s a picture of the finds cabin for you with Sue washing away…2014-07-17 14.50.15

and as promised yesterday here’s a photo of the lovely half melon bead…

…………………………………2014-07-17 14.45.22


Tomorrow is another day…. Bloggeria

16.7.14 – Week 2 Day 3

A good day again at Castleshaw, and only a bit of rain before close!  Just a few things to report –

Rachel’s Trench was being cleaned for official photos and so Trench 1 was unusually full of volunteers!

2014-07-16 14.49.23 … with some lovely finds coming out too –

Sonia’s holding a piece of rusticated pot here – and a better view on the shovel –2014-07-16 14.27.32 2014-07-16 14.27.40

This is Steve with a great piece of Samian ware – not the biggest today but you can see the decoration…

…………………..2014-07-16 14.43.27

this grey ware was found by Cliff…..2014-07-16 14.46.14

…and with it here is the very same large sherd of Samian ware – the biggest found in this dig to date unless I’m mistaken, but as I’ve been sorting and bagging the finds for 5 of the last 7 days I tend to believe it.

…………………..2014-07-16 14.46.02

Can’t resist the picture of John and Anne after a trek to the spoil heap…2014-07-16 14.48.05

and here’s one of Sue investigating another burnt feature..

………………………………………2014-07-16 14.26.47

The official report from Trench 1 is that the cleaning of the archaeological surfaces has continued, and on either side of Thompson’s central trench several layers have been exposed, some of which have yielded pottery….examples above.

Work in Trench 6 has also continued much as before – a few pictures from there….

………………………….2014-07-16 14.18.44 Hi to Sue…

2014-07-16 14.19.50… and lucky Ben getting to dig one of the central post holes at the East Gate… also a lovely view of the superior road surface.

And so to Rachel’s Trench, and very fine it looks too after its official photo-shoot. 2014-07-16 14.37.35  2014-07-16 14.37.39

After the clean up and a spot or two of rain some very distinct areas of burning can be seen. Tomorrow the task will be to start excavating Thompson’s trench, clearly visible above and below.

2014-07-16 14.41.00

In the photo above you can see the mystery group of stones in the SW corner… Rachel feels now that it’s building infill from a building running S-N across the trench. Earlier in the day Sonia found half a melon bead in that area, embedded in the clay that the stones seem to be set in.  I’ll try to get a photo of it tomorrow for you. .  Rachel calls this trench ‘the gift that keeps on giving’ and she wants to say – “to everyone who’s been trowelling in this trench this week you’ve done a fabulous job, really smashing, you should be proud of yourselves.”

Till tomorrow… B



15.7.14 – Week 2 Day 2

A surprise visitor arrived on site today – it’s David Heys, who dug the site with Rosser in the late 50s – and here he is….

………………………….2014-07-15 14.01.40

He was pleased to be here and to see what we’re making of the site… he could remember digging a section through the ramparts but not which one, although it makes sense that it’s the one at the North side.

2014-07-07 11.13.03 ..on this plan that I showed you a few weeks ago if you go to trench 3 – the green square marked ‘3’ – go to that line of 4 small squares and you’ll see that the last one continues on through the N rampart.  It may be that one.

Here’s the story of today in brief.

Trench 1 –  You’ll remember Thompson’s trench – the black line running down the length of the 80m trench at the N of the site. Today John, Ron, Steve and Cliff have been removing the fill of Thompson’s trench in the two places where it intersected with the service roads that were located last week.

2014-07-15 15.15.48 2014-07-15 15.16.02

Here’s John showing clearly that the road was cut through by Thompson, and the two teams have demonstrated the same result – that both service roads were excavated by Thompson.

In Trench 6 two of the post holes have been dug a little more –

…………….2014-07-15 15.34.44

the two types of surfaces are showing well –

2014-07-15 15.34.23  2014-07-15 15.34.27

……but the photo below shows that just a bit further away from the East Gate the road juts out to the N in a strange way, with an equally strange and inconsistent surface. Vicky wonders whether in fact it’s the ditch of the rampart that’s been in-filled.  So follow the right hand edge, now exposed, to about one third the way into the picture and you’ll see that the feature moves away to the right.  More later, when this will be investigated.

2014-07-15 15.36.46

Rachel’s Trench, as we’re calling it here, is showing some fabulous archaeology, but not now the potential for the Principia – more likely it’s a workshop area given that there are hearths, burning, changes, iron working and maybe smithing. Differential drying is revealing features such as building slots, and the roadside drain is exposed, but my ‘ruts’ from yesterday are sadly ruts no more. I’ll show you some of these features step by step.

2014-07-15 15.20.27  2014-07-15 15.20.32

Above is Norman pointing out some of the building slots.

2014-07-15 15.21.03..here he’s pointing out the pit where the Beaker pottery sherds were found… (see earlier blog post)

Jayne and Jacqui working on the road…2014-07-15 15.22.21 2014-07-15 15.22.38… the road

2014-07-15 15.24.312014-07-15 15.24.35….

above are a couple of the burnt areas and you can see the edge of the road at the back of this view of the trench

2014-07-15 15.25.57 and here’s what appears as a specific area of workshop buildings – with a great variety of colours coming up..

and all the while the children have been having a great time, learning about archaeology and excavation with Sarah and Rob… today they found pottery, glass and clay pipes as usual, but also a beautiful lower jawbone of a probable vole and something that looked like a little copper bead.

2014-07-15 11.32.53-2

Happy days!

Hi to Tony and Judy, and Lynsey too – glad to see you all again today, sorry not to get a picture of you working away on that road!

Per calamum et atramentum parata semper ….Your Bloggeria