Day 5 - Sometimes the weirdest things happen
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
I was quite surprised when I got up this morning to see that it was raining hard enough for me to have to wear a coat while walking through Alton to the Public Gardens. After the daily briefing Keith had sensibly decided that this was a good reason to try erecting our new shelter for the first time. It actually went quite well despite the instructions being fairly incomprehensible and meant we were able to keep all our displays and finds dry until the rain stopped.
Juliet and I were absolutely delighted that our first visitors of the day were David Graham and his wife. David was the local archaeologist who did so many of the local excavations in the 1960s and 70s at Neatham, and in so many other parts of the local area. We showed them both around our test pits in the Public Gardens and at Barton End, and David was able to go through our finds trays and help identify or date some of the items the diggers were unsure about. We do hope he will continue to drop by as the rest of the dig continues.
Digging continued in Davy's and Carol's test pits in the Public Gardens. I think that Davy was a bit fed up yesterday at finding himself in a test pit with WW2 foundations and mostly 20th Century finds. However, Juliet had told him to keep digging down and this was obviously smart advice because he looked much happier when I saw him this morning. He has at last started finding some Roman pottery beneath the WW2 concrete. He also seems to have commandeered most of the buckets in the Gardens!
Things were also looking cheerful on Carol's side of the Gardens too, in the area where Roman items were found during the 1988 dig.
Carol's diggers have started turning up some of my favourite finds so far, of which these are a few examples:
Below is the inside and outside of the bowl of a clay pipe which from its shape and size David Graham dated at about 1650:
Here are two views of the stem of a clay pipe - not related to the pipe bowl shown above, because it is later and machine made.
Today's finds team did a great job of cleaning and recording all the finds.
Meanwhile we yet again had lots of visitors and children wanting to explore the children's test pit. Keith is seen below with Jane Hurst from the Curtis Museum, talking to some of our visitors.
However, the irony of today - and what I refer to in this blog entry's title - is that at lunchtime Carl stopped to chat to one of the workmen involved in replacing the fencing around the children's play area elsewhere in the Gardens. In conversation the workman mentioned to Carl that he had found a few bits of pottery while digging the post holes for the new metal fence. Carl asked to take a look and this is what he saw!
These are beautiful pieces of rim and bases from large Romano-British storage jars! Moreover, the numerous different rim types show that they are from quite a number of such jars. I was straight on the phone to Leah, the Town Clerk, and we hope that tomorrow she may give us permission to put a test pit in this area as well. At the very least it is excellent evidence that there were indeed "Romans in the Gardens"; but obviously we need to explore this area further.
I think it is likely that tomorrow we will also close down some of our test pits in Kingsland Road and Barton End. The whole idea of test pits is to discover whether there is archaeology and I suspect that the answer in some of them is that there is not enough to merit digging further.