Wiston Roman Fort
Dig Diary July 2014
1 - Monday 14th July 2014
An excavation area was stripped of topsoil within the southwestern
corner of the fort. The trench extended from the line of
the western ramparts into the fort area, adjacent to an area where
postholes from timber buildings were recorded last summer. Pits
and postholes were revealed, but we had no sign of the intervallum road
(which runs around the inside of the perimeter of the fort) which
had shown up so clearly last year. We also put in the first
of our trenches in the fields to the south where geophysical survey
has indicated the presence of an extensive civilian settlement
survey results from June 2014
2 - Tuesday 15th July 2014
Our first day with volunteers, who did a great job cleaning up
the excavation area within the fort.
We finished excavating a further three trenches in the field to
the south. Numerous ditches, gullies and postholes have been
identified, although we still need to find the dating evidence
to confirm the area is a Romano-British vicus .
Cleaning the excavation area within the fort
Opening the trenches in the southern field
4 -Thursday 17th July 2014
A beautiful, warm and sunny day and one where the features have
started to make sense within the fort excavation area. Stone
lined postholes and other features are becoming visible indicating
the layout of the fort.
In the afternoon we had a group site visit with various members
and trustees of the Trust, representatives of PLANED and David
and Hazel Lewis of The David and Christopher Lewis Foundation (funders
of the fort excavation). Everyone seemed happy after a long
trek around the site of the fort and the possible vicus area.
The trenches in the southern field are very hard and dry and our
team is doing a sterling job of making them ready for recording
in less than ideal conditions.
The afternoon site tour watching the volunteers doing the hard
5 - Friday 18th July
Most of us continued with yet more cleaning within
the trench in the fort trying to determine where our intervallum
road has gone and why the features are all so shallow and indistinct.
Those in the southern field were having a better day
with weather conditions perfect for seeing the numerous ditches
and post holes within our four trenches.
In the morning Ed gave Wiston school a guided tour around the
fort site. They asked lots of interesting questions and had
a good look on the spoil heaps for finds. A site tour was undertaken
for our volunteers in the afternoon within the possible vicus field to
keep everyone informed of progress.
Site tour of the southern field for volunteers and staff
6 - Saturday 19th July
To keep spirits high we had a mass exodus to begin
excavation of the various ditches and postholes within the possible vicus field. So
far these seem to be relatively easy to define and excavate despite
the very dry nature of the ground. Highlight of the day was
the discovery of sherds of black burnished ware within one of the
ditches, though we certainly need more Roman pottery and more features
to confirm it is a Romano-British settlement. Jim stayed
behind with Deione in the fort field in a desperate attempt to
try and make sense of what our trench has uncovered and determine
how to proceed next week. The present theory at the end of
the first week is that we have the southern end of a north to south
aligned building in the middle of the trench. The building
is defined by right angled beam slots to the east and west with
a pair of stone lined postholes internally forming the central
aisle of the building. A possible cobbled entranceway may
also survive into the building. It could all change on Monday!
At last we have clear features to excavate in the southern
field (fort excavation area in the distance)
7 - Monday 21st July
We have continued work in the southern field and more of the features
have been excavated in the central trench (Trench 6). Ditches,
gullies and a number of postholes are all present. We have increased
our find count, with more black burnished ware and Samian pottery,
looking to date from the mid-1st century AD. Although early
days, it would suggest that the area was in use after the Roman
fort had been vacated. To have a Roman settlement of the
size indicated on the geophysical survey in Pembrokeshire would
be another first for Wiston! After a bit more recording
we have vacated the fort field for a few days whilst we deal with
the trenches in the southern field.
8 - Tuesday 22nd July
Excavation of the features in Trench 6 is coming
to an end with the recording phase well in progress. Hubert,
Robert, Martin and Rhod moved on to Trench 8 - our most southerly
trench located across a very busy area as suggested by the geophysical
features are not as clear as those in Trench 6 and may have been
severely truncated by ploughing, but plenty more to look at yet.
Pete, Tom, Joan and Roger have been working in Trench 7 the most
northerly trench. This has a number of features many of which
have indications of burning. Perhaps a light industrial area
just outside of the fort? A fragment of box flue tile was
also recovered from the trench. We would of course need a
vast amount more tile to suggest a bath house, but it is the first
definitively Roman tile we have found!
A well deserved break at our new camp in the southern
8 and 9 - Wednesday 23rd and
Thursday 24th July
We continue working in the southern field. It is dry, very
dry and it has been hot, very hot!
We are thankfully still making good progress and finishing up
in Trench 6, with volunteers Hazel, Ian, Jim, Jude and Rob preparing
numerous section drawings and filling in endless context sheets. Roger
has continued to excavate a lovely ditch in Trench 6 which has
produced some very nice pieces of Romano-British pottery.
Trench 7 has produced two nice features both of which have been
crammed with large stones, although their function is uncertain.
Trench 8 is still proving difficult in the dry conditions, but
Rhod was rewarded at the end of Wednesday with a nice sherd of
grey ware, with decoration.
During Thursday, further work in Trench 5, located directly southeast
of the fort, has produced a good amount of pottery, just from initial
trowelling of the surface. Large stones, a possible stone
surface and areas of burnt material in its northern end all suggest
that it could be really quite exciting! We shall start excavation
in the next few days.
Roger with a piece of the rim of a black burnished
ware vessel freshly picked from his ditch
Alice and Geraint in the southern end of Trench 5, where
expectations are high!
10 - Friday 25th July
Recording continues apace despite the very dry ground conditions
making everything in our trenches look the same colour! The
team is good at improvising to make some shade to improve our site
photographs. Better these conditions than the cold and rain
any day though!
Hazel and Robert work together to create
shade for a photograph
11 - Saturday 26th July
All excavation in Trenches 6, 7 and 8 is completed by the end
of the day, with a start being made on the final plans. The
team moves on to Trench 5, to investigate the dark (and damp!)
features at the northern of the trench. Two areas of the
trench are producing more finds than anywhere else and whilst my
back is turned there is a scramble by Alice, Joan and Rob to work
in the same spot! Violence is averted, but I am not looking
forward to Monday when I shall have to take some people away to
work back on the fort (mutiny may ensue). It seems that Trench
5 contains numerous layers of waste material, including building
rubble and lots of pottery. The edges of a large rubbish
pit may also have been identified by Geraint and Jude. The
building rubble suggests a building, at least partially built
of stone, lay nearby and as we are close to a water course, perhaps
we are near to the site of the fort bath house? Wishful thinking
Possible rubbish pit at northern end of Trench
5 with building rubble
12 - Sunday 27th July
Sunday is our day of rest, but this does not prevent Hubert from
coming in to finish off a plan.
Hubert planning Trench 8 on his day off
13 - Monday 28th July
Following some negotiation amongst the team our forces were split
up, with Alice, Geraint, Joan and Jude remaining in the area with
most finds within Trench 5. Roger also stayed to work on
a difficult area at the south end of the trench. Tom continued
finding yet more features in Trench 7, with Hubert and Jon having
a day of surveying. Deione also remained in the south field
to wash and bag the finds.
For the rest of us it was back to the fort for some hard labour! Hazel,
Ian, John, Rob, Robert and Tony spent the day reducing the ground
level over the area of the possible building to try and expose
the top of the archaeological deposits. Pete, Rhod and Sarah
dug sections through the rampart material to expose the original
Pax Romana, the lucky four remain in Trench 5 with
no blood spilt (the less lucky Roger in the background)
Rhod and Sarah tackle the ramparts
Day 14 - Tuesday
The fort team spend the morning trowelling and we expose numerous
features including pits, postholes and gullies. Following
preliminary recording we start to excavate some of the features. Only
one or two small sherds of pottery so far, but there is still time. Rhod
and Ian continue on the ramparts.
In the south field Roger finds the enclosure ditch at the south
end of Trench 5 which had been eluding us for a few days. The
northern part of the trench still appears to contain layers of
rubbish deposits, possibly covering an earlier ditch. The
possibility of a corn drier has also been found by Tom in Trench
Watering the fort trench ready for the morning
Day 15 - Wednesday
The team continues to try and excavate the various
features identified within the fort trench. This does not
prove easy in many cases as the edges of features are elusive and
the ground surface all seems to turn the same colour light brown
after a few hours. Small sherds of pottery are recovered
from the large pit discovered in the trench.
Excavation in Trench 5 is completed revealing the northern end
is covered in a series of Roman tip layers, including building
stone, burnt material and lots of pottery, filling a natural low
point in the southern field. Within Trench 7, Tom starts
to realise that what we thought was the undisturbed ground surface
is actually material that may have been laid for some form of flooring.
We are joined during the day by some of the Pembrokeshire Prospectors
who scan our spoil heaps and trenches for metal finds, although
very little is found. I apologise to them again for burying
a broken hand shovel in a spoil heap.
The end of excavation in Trench 5, Geraint, Joan, Jude and Rodger
take a breather
Day 16 - Thursday
Panic begins to set in as I realise the enormous amount of recording
and excavation we still have to do to finish the site. To
make it easier Rhod and I end the day cleaning up the area beneath
the ramparts and find a road! Further postholes are also
discovered within the trench.
Within the southern field, Jude and Geraint tackle the long section
drawing through the tip layers at the northern end of the trench,
whilst Martin decides to do further excavation and finds what looks
like a road surface at the side of the tip layers. Rodger,
Roger and Tom continue to find more in Trench 7. Tomorrow
is the last day, but still we can't stop ourselves finding more!
Tom in Trench 7
Day 17 - Friday
Our last day on-site with volunteers, only held
up for 15 minutes by an early morning torrential downpour (the
only time we have been stopped by bad weather for three weeks!) It
is a day of hectic recording, writing context sheets, drawing and
we shouldn't, we also continue with a bit of excavation in the
fort field. Ian resolves that the small feature he had been
digging is actually a large pit. Rob and Hazel confirm a
couple more postholes. It is a long day and a huge amount
is completed, leaving only some plan drawing to do on Sunday.
bit of cleaning and recording in Trench 4 (please note that John
is kneeling down in a pit
A huge thank you to everyone who
has worked on the team, Alice, Ami, Babs, Deione, Gaynor, Geraint,
Hazel, Ian, Jim, Joan, John, Jon,
Jude, Martin, Pete, Rhod, Rob, Robert, Rodger, Roger, Sarah and
Tony (and of course Ed, Hubert, Pete, Tom and Sarah), it
has been a most enjoyable and very worthwhile exercise.
I shall add a round up of my thoughts on our findings
in the next few days which I hope will demonstrate how successful
the project has been and how our work has substantially increased
our understanding of the Romans in Pembrokeshire. Thanks
of course are also due to Cadw and The David and Christopher Lewis
Foundation for funding the work. Last but not least, massive
thanks to Mr Ieuan Morris and family for allowing us to come back
and dig more holes across his land, and for his interest, support
and assistance throughout the project.