MAAG Blog 2016

23rd October 2016

Today we had fine autumn weather as we protected the exposed walls against frost over the winter with a covering of soil. 

So that's all on site for 2016, we hope to be back around Easter next year, look out for announcements. There will be a round up of the work on site to date, including a summary of the last 11 years work at East Farleigh, as well as new developments this season, to be held on the 11th November at the members evening.

Excitement at this year's achievements must of course be tempered by the sad loss of Trevor Simmons on the 2nd of October. For those wishing to pay their last respects, his memorial service is to be held at Marden Parish Church on the 25th of October at 1300.

All that remains is to thank everyone for their hard work and their time this year. We couldn't do it without you.

21st October 2016

Today we finished the last of the digging for this year. The two trenches over building six have been taken as far as we can this season and we will have to wait until next year before we can open up some larger areas to answer the remaining questions.

 

All that is left to do on Sunday is to protect the walls over the winter and tidy up the site.

16th October 2016

The forecast was correct, apart from a brief shower midday, the weather was good. We also had a good turn out of diggers, so we were able to get a lot done.

In Sandra's trench she has cleaned out more material to reveal a flat area of mortar and other building material, which is difficult to interpret at the moment.

In Mike's trench he has enlarged it and exposed a little more of this broad wall foundation. Again leaving us perplexed as to how it fits with the walls seen in the other trench.

Star find today was a fragment of a cheese press, only the second found on the site.

Also found on the spoil heap by Tanya on her birthday with her birthday present metal detector was a brass military button.

Can anyone identify it?


14th October 2016

A productive days digging with benign weather for October. More work was done on the two trenches over building six.

Here you can see the south eastern corner of the building, with the darker orange mortar. Outside of the building can be seen lighter coloured mortar which maybe a residual layer left from the demolition process.

In the other trench can be seen the north eastern corner. What is remarkable is the width of this wall in comparison to the walls of this building that we have already seen in the earlier trench.

We also had the unexpected honour of a visit from KAS President Gerald Cramp, who was very enthusiastic about our site.

9th October 2016

We are starting to finish the various tasks needed before closing the site for the winter. Annette did a great job of tidying the drainage trench ready for final photos.

This trench will be backfilled at the start of next season.

Elsewhere Sandra and Mike got to grips with their trenches over the new building six. Each finding two different mortar colours associated with the robbed out walls. In Sandra's trench the south eastern corner can now be made out, although there is still mortar and stone on the outside of the building.

In Mike's trench the wall seems to be disconcertingly curving, and he still hasn't found the other side.

We all stopped for a minute's silence at 2.30 to remember our friend Trevor.

7th October 2016

First day back on site after the sad events of the previous Sunday.

We made some progress in all of the trenches.

2nd October 2016

A very sad day. Today we lost our remarkable friend and fellow archaeologist Trevor Simmons who collapsed and died on the site doing what he loved so much. A truly unique man who will be greatly missed by the group, his friends and family.

25th September 2016

Warm dry weather means rock hard ground for our trenches under the trees.

Trevor's trench contains an embarassment of features, with two hop strainers, and a collection of building stone masquerading as walls.

In Mike's trench the opposite is true, after removing the wooden hop strainer there are no other features to be seen where there ought to be a wall.

In Sandra's trench she has almost finished exposing two mysterious intercutting features at right angles to each other, where A is earlier than B.

Elsewhere Gillian has been continuing to remove the baulk in the drainage ditch trench, and Albert has returned an almost complete cooking pot for display and discussion.


18th September 2016

A perfect day for archaeology today after Friday's rain and a good turnout.

Sandra and Max continued work on the wall plaster trench, revealing an unexpected feature running parallel to the western wall of building five.

New members Gillian and Annette are doing some final work to the drainage ditch trench before we put it to bed for the winter.

Trevor and David battled the still rock hard ground in the two new trenches over building six. Both had modern hop strainers to deal with which seem to have been punched through the walls.

Here trevor has removed the hop strainer to reveal some of the stones of the wall heading east.

And David has managed to remove enough material to finally get to grips with his.

And in the northern extension to our wall trench you can see here where Tanya is working on the occupation layer to the east of the robbed-out wall. Another hop strainer had been inserted in the line of the wall to confuse us. We will have to wait for next year before we can explore this feature further.

4th September 2016

A dry day on site to welcome our new members, Gillian and John, who did sterling work starting a new trench and helping with our other open trenches. The soil is still extremely dry and hard, so any new areas that we are opening are very hard work.

Friday's mystery object has been identified by our militaria expert as a Prussian first world war button, probably one of many on the great coats disposed of on the field.

Today we found another button of similar size, as yet unidentified.

Please note that there will not be any digging on site this Friday, the 9th of September, due to a lack of available supervisors.

2nd September 2016

Friday saw us battling against the ultra dry soil despite a few showers.

Mike and Mike did a great job of enlarging the trench so that we could see the line of the robbed out wall. Eventually allowing us to see that the strange kink was in fact another hop strainer! It is unfortunate that we are on the edge of the hop garden and the Roman wall is more or less in line with the end of the hop pole runs where the wires were tensioned with strainers anchored into the ground with concrete or wooden stays.

On the positive side we were rewarded with a Roman coin found in the backfill of the hop strainer. A radiate head can be seen on one side, but little can be seen on the other of this very worn coin.

Elsewhere Sandra and Albert have removed more plaster from the fallen plaster trench, and are making good progress.

We also recovered an unstratified mystery object which I am sure can be identified. Clearly not Roman, but interesting nonetheless, it is a brass circular object with an embossed crown on both sides and lettering, 'S&S' on one side, and measuring 20mm in diameter. Possibly a button or bottle top, can you identify it?

Don't forget, to enlarged photos please right-click and select 'open in a new window'.

28th August 2016

A very productive day despite a few showers. Mike was able to finish the trench to the east of building three, excavating the terminus to the ditch system, and proving that the ditch respects the buildings and does not disappear under the wall.

In the long trench with the new building, building 6, Trevor extended the trench to reveal more of what looks like over engineering of the south west corner. We will have to wait until we see more of this building before this makes sense.

In the trench extension following the wall to the north we have revealed that the wall has been extensively robbed out, possibly in Roman times, possibly as part of the work done when the hop strainers were installed in modern times. The dotted line indicates a change in the soil colour where the wall has been removed. The kink at the end has yet to be explained.

 

26th August 2016

A beautiful day to be in the English countryside and we made the most of it with a productive day. Sandra and Max cleared out more of the long trench alongside building 6. 

Whilst Debbie worked on the trench extension to trace the wall heading north. You can see the modern hop strainer that has been inserted through the wall in the foreground.

Mike has exposed the terminus of the drainage ditch to the east of building three, which would strongly suggest that the ditch is contemporary with that phase of buildings.

21st August 2016

A good productive day today. The section across the drainage ditch was completed by Mike today, and we got glimpse of the terminus of the ditch in front of the eastern end of building three, suggesting that the ditch is probably contemporary with the building. More work is needed to finish this trench next time.

In the long trench with the western wall of new building 6, Trevor extended the trench to reveal a corner where we were expecting a 'T', although intriguingly there is some suggestion that something continues to the south of the corner. That means a further extension to explore further. 

Elsewhere Debbie and Elizabeth valiantly battled the dry baked earth in the hope of exposing more of the narrow wall to the north. Their efforts resulted in the sight of some stones in a row heading up the trench. Clearly the remains of the wall but heavily robbed.

19th August 2016

Unfortunately the rain has arrived as forecast, so today's digging is reluctantly cancelled. On the positive side, the trenches could undoubtedly do with some rain to soften up the ground.

14th August 2016

A fine day's digging was had today by a good turnout of volunteers. Albert and Debbie did more work on the painted wall plaster trench, revealing that some of the plaster was coloured red, meaning that so far we have an external wall with white, red and blue painted plaster with black banding.

Elizabeth and Annette did a splendid job of extending one of our earliest trenches with the new wall to see if we can find a corner.

Trevor, Sandra and Tanya progressed our long trench with the three wall phases, extending the trench in two areas to reveal corners and walls extending to the east. This looks as though the bulk of this building is in the trees alongside the trackway.

13th August 2016

An overcast day allowed a better attempt at photographing the trench and features, showing much better the three different wall phases.

12th August 2016

Today was a splendid day to be in the Kent countryside. We did more work on both trenches but it is the work in the new long trench 16G that is raising the most questions.

Although it is difficult to see due to the bright conditions, we seem to have three different phases of walls, with a gap between that is filled with stones. It is hard to interpret what we are looking at without seeing a broader area. 

7th August 2016

Another good day's digging today, with more fine work in both trenches. 

As you can see our new trench with the walls continuing is not quite sticking to the script. As with so many Roman sites it is far more complicated than we had anticipated, and inevitably we will have to enlarge these trenches before we can hope to understand what is going on here. The first picture shows the same trench from both ends, and hopefully it is clear that we have two walls that seem to be on different alignments and different widths and different coloured mortars. The second image shows the central section from above where the two walls meet, or not.

5th August 2016

A good day on Friday allowed us to do more work on our existing trench, 16D, to the east of building three where Mike has been doing a great job cutting a section through the ditch, and we've started to clean up the walls uncovered in the new trench 16G.

31st July 2016

A fine day on Sunday allowed us to continue work on our trench to the east of building three and to start work on the new trenches that we opened on thursday.

(New trenches in red, existing trench in magenta). Already we can see the lower courses of a fine mortared wall, and a further section of mortared masonry with some wall tumble. More work will undoubtedly give us valuable information on this new area of the site.

29th July 2016

This week we hired a small mechanical digger, ably driven by Mike Howard, which we used to backfill a couple of excavated trenches and open some new ones. The ground was extremely dry and hard and the machine struggled with these conditions, however we have managed to prepare new areas to further explore the new wall found earlier in the season.

After a bit of cleaning up it is already clear that we have more than one course of mortared wall, wider than the section already exposed in earlier excavations. Is this the missing building from 1838?

24th July 2016

Sunday was a productive day, despite the tricky soil and light conditions. Work was done to try and establish the extent of the ditch feature as it approaches building three, however this is eluding us so far due to modern interventions and our own previous excavations. 

Star find was an antler pick discarded in the backfill of the drainage ditch.

22nd July 2016

A well attended day saw plenty of progress in trench 16D at the eastern end of building three. Some definite features are emerging, and it won't be long before we can begin to answer some of the questions about this part of the site.

We will also be aiming to open some new areas with a mechanical digger in the coming week.

Don't forget, to enlarged photos please right-click and select 'open in a new window'.

8th July 2016

A good productive day on site on Friday, with more work done in the trench to the east of building three. This is still proving to be a little confusing with a number of deposits merging into one another without revealing clear feature edges. More work needs to be done on this.

A piece of roof tile was recovered from this trench with clear finger impressions and some other marks created when the clay was still wet. 

3rd July 2016

Good weather and a good turnout made for a productive day on Sunday.

The trench to the south west of building five has moved along with Sandra and Albert removing the last deposits to reveal a number of small stake-hole features. Hopefully this trench can be completed on Friday.

Elsewhere the new trench to the east of building three is progressing nicely. The second hop strainer has been removed and we are getting a better idea of the extent of the ditch feature that we have come to look at. No finds worthy of note.

1st July 2016

Despite some early showers we managed to get in a productive day's digging.

Mike's trench in front of building five is almost complete, showing the gulley running across the trench from east to west and cutting through a mortar spread layer, which appears to have been eroded away on the north side. The feature exposed last week has been excavated revealed a modest sized pit containing stone and tile, which could possibly be a post hole.

The other new trench to the east of building three is also progressing. Despite some muddy conditions we were able to clean up the trench to reveal more of the stones infilling the ditch feature. We also managed to remove one of the modern hop strainers.

Please note, to enlarged photos please right-click and select 'open in a new window'.

26th June 2016

Another good days digging avoiding any rain.

Mike has continued to work on the trench to the north of building five revealing a feature in the south west corner (shown in blue).

And we have started a new trench, 16D, to the east of the end of building three, to see the relationship between the drainage ditch and the buildings. Here you can see the southeastern corner of building three re-exposed.

Star find today was a nice piece of Nene-Valley pottery from the third or fourth century.

24th June 2016

A quiet day with only two of us on site, with good weather we still managed to get some useful work done in the trench to the north of building five.

The trench has been excavated in two halves. In the top of the photo you can see where the feature cut has been excavated. To the right of this we can see a layer containing mortar fragments, but to the left there is no such spread and we are almost down to the natural ragstone. In contrast in the bottom of the image the upper stones from the feature have been removed but the fill remains. To the right of the feature can be seen a spread of roof tile and other building debris, which was not seen in the corresponding section of the trench above it in the photo. The left hand side of the feature appears consistent top and bottom. There is more work to do to work out what is going on here but it looks like this feature was preventing the spread of demolition material. 

19th June 2016

Rain has been a problem for the last week or so but happily we managed to get a full day's digging in on Sunday.

Sandra has made excellent progress on the ditch section, but it was far too wet and sticky to do much on it, but as can be seen it is nearly complete.

Our efforts were therefore focussed elsewhere. We concentrated on the trench to the north of building 5 where we had seen a linear feature emerging. This line of stones had been seen last year in a neighbouring trench but was difficult to identify. This year we are getting a much better look at it.

 

Under the stones we are seeing a narrow gully, about 400mm wide and about 300mm deep. To the south of this feature is a mortar spread, but not to the north side, suggesting either that it was providing a barrier to the spread of material from the demolition of building 5 or that it produced the mortar spread to the south. There is also another alternative, that this feature was cut through the mortar spread, and then the fill to the north was subsequently eroded or removed. Hard to say at this stage. It is also not clear whether we are dealing with a ditch filled by unwanted stone, or a robbed out wall trench.

Our recent star find from this trench was a very nice piece of window glass, showing where it had been made on a sand bed. There are also some intriguing parallel scratches that may be associated with its insertion or removal.

3rd June 2016

A dry day was all we could have asked for, although the heavy rain from earlier in the week had made parts of the site unworkable. We managed to make solid progress in three of the trenches.

Sandra and Max continued to burrow to the bottom of the ditch, valiantly combatting muddy conditions. Still some way to go.

In the wall plaster trench, Mike Howard has cleared away the remainder of the collapsed masonry to expose the mortar and plaster-work ready for it to be carefully lifted.

And Mike has made good progress on the trench with the 'gulley', which you can just see here as a spread of stones.

Good work from all. Today was my last day for two weeks as I am away in Italy helping the Texas University team excavate Oplontis B. I shall expect to be wowed on my return!


29th May 2016

A quiet days digging with only three diggers due to the bank holiday weekend, no doubt. But progress was made in the trench with the ditches. Debbie identified one of the ditches that we were looking to pick up at the western end of the trench and removed its fill and Sandra descended further into her ditch at the other end of the trench. Star find today was another radiate coin from Sandra's ditch.

And shown here part of the pot found by Trevor near the new wall, carefully reconstructed.

27th May 2016

A good day on site with progress made in both trenches but nothing spectacular to report.

22nd May 2016

Another solid days excavations, helped by unexpectedly dry weather.

Trevor finished the trench with the new wall, allowing him to start on a new trench to the the northwest corner of building five where we are hoping to pick up a gulley feature seen in previous years.

In the other trench Sandra is persevering with the fill in her ditch section, now revealing discarded building stone, and work is progressing to understand the other features at the other end of the trench where we have uncovered a metalled surface and hints of at least one ditch. One of the interesting conclusions that can be drawn from this part of the site is that it appears that the topsoil was stripped off during the Roman period to the side of this large ditch to leave a hard stoney surface.

We have an update on last week's antler find. Trevor uncovered another piece of the same item, which shows that it was indeed some sort of antler tool, with two prongs, most likely a sort of pitchfork. It is clear that the bone has been worked to refine it.


20th May 2016

A good productive day with progress made in both active trenches. No major discoveries.

15th May 2016

A good days digging at East Farleigh saw us make progress in both trenches that we are currently working on.

Star finds were an antler pick which Trevor found alongside the new wall and you can see where the end of the bone has been drilled to accommodate a shaft, also a Jet or shale gaming counter which Tanya found in the other trench. It is also worth noting that Trevor also recovered about 80% of a good sized pot, which has not yet been washed or photographed.

13th May 2016

Our first Friday session of 2016 saw three of us enjoying the warm weather.

We concentrated on the drainage ditch trench, trying to make some sense of what we were seeing. At Sandra's end the ditch fill can be quite clearly seen as a dark deposit to the left of the tennis ball.

At the other end of the trench it was less clear what was happening. 

There are several bands of stones that are running across the trench, suggesting the other ditches that we are hoping to see, but it has not yet become clear what is fill and what is edge. No doubt this will resolve itself.

7th May 2016

Another fantastic day, almost too hot for digging.

Trevor and Mike worked hard to see more of our new wall. Exposing another section which looks like it might reveal a change or addition during the wall's construction.

Elsewhere, Mike helped to reveal the wall plaster fallen off the western wall of building five; Sandra, Debbie and Tanya laboured to expose more of the drainage ditches to the south east; and one of our newest members, Pamela assisted with the pot washing. Star find today was a very corroded coin from the drainage ditch trench.

Following a number of requests, we will be digging on Fridays, usual times from this coming Friday for at least a few weeks, depending on attendance. Hope to see you then.

1st May 2016

A glorious day, on which we made good progress. More work was done on the long trench to the south east of the site where we are looking to pick up the drainage ditches, and by the end of the day we could see the edge of one side of one of the larger ditches.

There was also additional work done to see more of our recently discovered wall. We have opened up another trench, and that was partially excavated to expose the top of the stones. Once again we can see the neat dressed stone and adjacent to it a slot containing what looks like demolition or construction debris. This remains a bit of a mystery and will probably not be resolved until we see a lot more of it.

In the photo here you can see the new section on the right with the modern hop anchor just behind the wall. On the left is the section of wall exposed previously, and it can be seen that the wall ends abruptly on the far left. This is due to a modern intervention, probably something to do with the hop garden. 

24th April 2016

We made good progress today, despite a cold start. The trench with the new wall has been almost fully excavated to reveal that it is indeed Roman, and what remains is only one course of stones laid onto the natural. It is only 38cm wide, which is perplexing, as this is too narrow for anything substantial built of stone. There is a shallow cut running parallel to the wall which was filled with fragments of roof tile. It maybe that this was the full extent of the wall, almost doubling the width. We shall see when we see more of it.

Mike and Trevor did sterling work opening up another trench by hand so that we can see more of this wall next week.

Elsewhere work on a trench to the south of the drainage ditches uncovered last year is progressing.

A great start to this season's digging.

17th April 2016

A glorious day on which to welcome our new non-digging member Pamela who came to site to see our progress and do some pot- washing.

Today's major discovery thanks to Sandra was a new wall where we had put in some speculative trenches on the north east of the site near the trackway. 

 

This looks very well constructed, although quite narrow, with a clear difference in context between one side and the other suggesting the inside and outside of a building. Could this be the missing building from 1838? Unfortunately Sandra chose to uncover this building the day after the mechanical digger had been, so if we want to see more of it we will have to dig by hand. Why not come and give us a hand?

16th April 2016

Today we hired a small mini digger to backfill last year's trenches and open up some new areas. This was pretty sticky work due to the rain the previous day.

We have put in a long trench to pick up the drainage ditches heading south, and another to look at the relationship between the ditch heading west and building 3. We have also opened up another area in front of building 5 to look at the gulley that we saw last year and the corner of building 5. 

3rd April 2016

Our first days digging for the new season was accompanied by clear warmish weather, long may it continue!

We opened up two small trenches in amongst the trees on the north east of the site where we hope to see the extent of the build up of material that created this area of the hop gardens. If we are correct that it is all built up material, then it will be unstratified, but if there is a wealth of Roman material it should give us additional information about the site.


At the end of the day in the first trench we uncovered what looks like a hop strainer, part of the system of wires that supported the hop poles. This was surrounded by stones, which are masquerading as a wall. We will explore this further in the coming weeks.


Other finds include modern pottery, as well as Roman pottery, a tiny copper pin head of unknown age, (well done Trevor for spotting that) and a piece of nicely dressed stone that could have come from the lost Roman buildings.



Elizabeth was quick to identify this rogue sherd as from Burton's Codnor Park Pottery from the early 19th century, probably originally containing ginger beer.

27th March 2016 

Hope you all had a good break over the winter and are now ready for some digging! 
We are proposing to start the 2016 season at East Farleigh on Sunday the 3rd of April. With the usual caveat concerning the weather at this time of year. 
We are hoping to get a mechanical digger arranged to backfill last year's trenches and remove the topsoil on some new areas. In the meantime the plan is to explore an area of made up ground in the trees to the north of the site to try and confirm the extent of re-landscaping that has gone on in modern times. This should yield a wealth of Roman material which, although essentially unstratified, we hope will give us more information about the site. 
If you haven't already done so please visit the 'Excavations at East Farleigh' section which has been updated over the winter with the latest plans and comment. As ever I will be updating the blog with our progress and weather related news.
Look forward to seeing you soon!