Sarah is presented with her birthday cake... phew we're too full of cake to go back to work.
Emma begins to get to grips with the section through the Great East
Terrace whilst Peter has prepared the ground with careful terracing so
we can proceed stepwise with the excavation.
A what a marvelous result, oops hang on I think I can see a stray leaf somewhere!
A new arrival, Sebastian joined us having
heroically caught the train to Banbury the walked out to Hanwell.
Otherwise Verna was occupied catching up with recording on the newly
cleaned Second Sluice area (see above) whilst Peter's team battled
roots until Christopher came along with his chain saw and settled the
business. On the long terrace section Kathryn and Viv did a marvelous
job on tidying up the lower stony scatter ready for drawing whilst Emma
and her cohorts got to grips with the optical level and started on the
massive job of drawing a profile through the earthworks along the line
of the trench.
Well the weather forecast really let us down today.
We were expecting heavy storms through the afternoon and it remained
stubbornly fine. Unlike the morning when we were plagued by repeated
showers causing us to take shelter on a couple of occasions. It was
particularly challenging on the steep slope on the great East Terrace
which started to resemble a ski slope. Nevertheless we made good
progress more stones at the bottom of the slope and deep deep deposits
at the top. Quite different to the Temple of Flora where efforts
gradually revealed more about the wall plunging down the slope. Down on
the Second Sluice elevations were drawn and more rubble shifted so Sam
could demonstrate his dry stone wall building skills. Anyway we halted
at 12.30 for lunch then headed over early to the National Herb Centre
at Warmington to visit the Roman site there and dodge the on-coming
downpour. This dig organised by the Warmington Heritage Group and
directed by David Freke has made some remarkable discoveries over the
past few years and we were fascinated by David's lucid and entertaining
tour then we waited for it to rain... but it didn't. The day ended
with multiple trips to various supermarkets and pizza back in Cropredy.
Once again the weather forecast is totally adrift. We were expecting
showers all day and wet evening, in fact as it worked out it was pretty
pleasant all day until about 9.00 p.m. Some comings and goings amongst
the volunteers but still good progress being made with Verna's group
drawing elevations and chasing after rubble filled channels whilst
Peter's team continued to record and clarify the various walls that
comprise the Temple of Flora. On the long section after huge amounts of
digging of fairly undifferentiated hill-washed silts (?) a few slight
indications of possible paving showed up half way down the slope. Emma
and her helpers worked valiantly on trying to tease out assorted banks
of rubble towards the bottom of the terracing.
Verna discusses some key point of strategy with
Christopher. Down at the Temple everyone is busy and
Elizabeth gets to grips with plan drawing.
Oddly on this photo the trench looks surprisingly level, you wouldn't
think that one false step could send them rolling down the slope!
Verna is getting set up for a site photograph on the Second Sluice
whilst Samuel examines the latest find... or possibly his fingernails.
The weekend saw large scale barbecuing on Saturday evening for all
comers, pleasant enough but not quite the right weather for it, whilst
on Sunday after lunch we drove everyone up to visit the reconstructed
Elizabethan garden at Kenilworth Castle and discuss topics such as
viewing terraces, the mutability of wooden garden fittings and cold
showers for gentlemen, all of this rounded off by English Heritage's
best quality tea and cakes.
Emma and Sam in a hurry to explore Kenilworth's Elizabethan garden.
Monday morning saw us hard at work with possibly our greatest number of
volunteers to date, sixteen of us all told I believe and plenty of
progress made. Walls are really becoming very well defined on Peter's
patch whilst Emma put in another valiant performance trying to
unscramble drifts of tumbled rubble ( as well as spending an
extra few hours teasing it out over the weekend, thanks Emma.). the
extra help meant we were also able to take another skim off the surface
of the moated platform whilst Verna's team shifted serious rubble
upstream of the second sluice. Finally it was to the island with Sam
and Sebastian completing one section and starting another in a vain
attempt to confirm our hypothesis about an extended stone paving
underneath a greater portion of the platform... didn't happen.
Well, a day of big departures, all of our campers were packing up
to leave, leaving behind only memories and patches of yellow grass...
hmmmm, this is sounding a little maudlin... Anyway, excitement on site
where at the top of the section through the East Terrace we finally
found some walling to match the beautifully preserved section in
Peter's area. Sarah and Shereen had been cleaning round a bit of a
brick and it was only moments after they had left to help Verna with
some drawing that the remains of the tumbled wall began to emerge. The
curious little wall running down the slope from the Temple of Flora was
shown by Phillip to have a fairly massive foundation underpinning it,
what was it for?
Whilst a few stalwarts dug on through the afternoon several of us were
treated to a trip to Christ Church College with Rowena and Christopher.
After seeing Rowena's study we were lead, against the flow of one way
traffic and circumventing the lengthy queue of shuffling tourists, up
into the magnificent dining hall. Fortuitously we also bumped into the
college archivist who was extremely kind and offered to unlock the
marvelous library for us to take a look round. We also took in the
cathedral - interesting to see some medieval decorated floor tiles in
situ - Deadman's Walk, the Danby Gate of 1633 to the Botanical Gardens
and of course Blackwells and the Covered Market. Many many thanks to
Rowena for sorting this out for us.
... and thanks to Christopher for this team photo in Christ Church meadows.
It all seemed quite quiet today with most of our campers having
departed... Sebastian lingers on. Nevertheless a number of 'wow'
moments down at the Temple of Flora as the full details of the
relationship between the two walls became clearer. Lots of features
including further impressive foundations. The Second Sluice saw loads
of drawing and a start made on the removal of a later blocking to the
channel. More work on the tumbled wall remains at the
top of the big East Terrace section proved very revealing. We also laid
on a spot of extra training on finds processing and Christine braved
the boat to experience the island with Sir Anthony's Bath. Actually she
made two suggestions as to it's possible function neither of which had
come up before. Firstly she enquired whether it could have been a
hiding place or perhaps a secret strongroom for some kind of
valuable goods then she went on to ask if given the scientific
background of the gardens it could have been used for a particular kind
of explosive experiment or perhaps storing unusually dangerous substances. Food for thought most certainly.
at it, drawing down at the Second
The crucial junction between the two walls at the Temple of Flora
Not a great photo but just to show we have big rubble too at the top of the East Terrace section, better views tomorrow.
The last day of the 'Big Dig' although obviously still lots to be done,
essentially the paperwork, next week. Down on the Second Sluice a start
was made on examining the apparent blocking of the cross wall. Initial
indications suggest it was not a blocking at all but part of the
collapsed core of the wall. Up at the Temple of Flora the full scale
and sophistication of both walls and their foundations became
increasingly clear whilst on the long section perseverance finally paid
off with a substantial wall emerging right at the top of the trench. It
looks as if a fairly massive but rough cut retaining wall was built
which could then be faced with well dressed ashlar. In afternoon we had
our final excursion to the island before starting to clear away bits
pieces most notably the contents of the tea tent. So, of course, huge
thanks to everyone but particularly to our hosts: Rowena and
Christopher and our supervisors: Peter, Verna and Emma.