After a couple of months lay off
it was good to get things back together with a big tidy up to prepare
for the open weekend of 'Stars and Snowdrops. despite strong winds and
occasional rain we managed to open up the pop-up museum showing for the
first time some of the amazing range of finds from last summer. new
sign boards were also installed for visitors to guide themselves round
with plus we were able to have someone on hand in both the museum and
down on the dig site to answer visitors' questions for most of the
weekend. So all in all a great start to the new year of digging.
Some of our first visitors to the pop-up museum early on Sunday morning
after we had done a lot of mopping up, note lots of extra ropes to tie
the marquee down in advance of Storm Eric.
Details of the display showing some of the garden urns and the fountain bowl to the wider public for the first time.
Out on the archaeology trail with the first two stops looking across to the island and back to the castle.
The cascade newly weeded and brushed down and the view up into 'Mesopotamia'.
Plenty of warnings and barrier tape to greet visitors to the main dig
site whilst the second sluice looks a little sad and abandoned... we
Another clean up of the trench on the far side of the water parterre.
The trench across the wall to the south looks increasingly interesting
with two phases of wall construction and a curious square setting of
stone, more to investigate here.
A general view looking north across the water parterre/House of
Diversion and a view of the east terrace plus drifts of snowdrops.
... and finally some strimming had been
done prior to our visitors arriving and this is the top of the small
mound I had long fancied as the site of a seat or summerhouse of
monument of some kind but right in the middle is a huge block of
concrete so now I'm not so sure.
After Stars and Snowdrops it was on
with the first serious work of the new season. This involved some major
root removal and soil shifting in the trench extension to the west, the
one looking for a possible outer wall to the moat and finding...
nothing ... so far. Meanwhile up on the island and above the line of
the wall once the surface of the debris field had been photographed we
made a start of removing it and rapidly came upon the remains of the
rubble core of the wall standing quite tall at this point. On
the Saturday after Stars and Snowdrops we had the pleasure of welcoming
members of the Friends of Oxford Botanic Garden to the re-popped-up
pop-up museum and a tour of the gardens.
Peter and Yefren extend the extension on Tuesday whilst Ian continues
on Wednesday as Chris scrapes away a winter's worth of damp leaves.
Just clearing out the last of the east extension, it's looking deep but
Helen contemplates the first traces of walling as
we remove tiles and plaster from the site.
The following week saw continuing work to define the line of the west wall of the octagon...
... and the waters started to recede!
And still the weather continued to be amazing...
“Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive
But to be young was very heaven.”
William Wordsworth, The Prelude
Now some of you may be wondering what Peter S. has been up to as he hasn't had a mention on these pages since September.
Well whilst we were gallivanting off to exotic places like Packwood and
Chastleton then having our two month winter lay-off Peter has been
continuing to work marvels in the finds department, washing and
weighing and recording finds old and new. This week he was down on site
processing shed loads of roof tile to save us carting them up to the
sheds, makes sense really, plus he did his regular detector run to keep
us posted as to the likely sites for encountering metalwork as we
continue to scrape away. Finally we have a new pot stuck together, I
thought it was old pot 6 but no it's new! Not quite as complete yet but
there may be bits to track down... terrific work. Meanwhile digging continued with the line of the wall becoming ever clearer and more pots emerging.
Peter assesses the roof
The pot rebuild II
Meanwhile on site the facing of the wall starts to emerge and
as the sun continues to shine our first pot of the season...with a huge
lump of rubble straight through the middle! Rather alarmingly we seem
to have a curve rather than a corner... hmmm.
Well as they say one stone leads to another leads to.... We now have
the line of the whole of the west face and half of the south west face
plus a new corner.
The rim of a new pot appears against the face of the wall.
Progress on cleaning up the rest of the site whilst the line of the west wall becomes ever clearer.
Not showing up too well but a lots of garden urn scattered around to the left of Peter's elbow.