Day 14

26 Aug

Today we are visited by Eddie Holden (84) who remembers seeing the 1934 excavations of the South Gate. He paints a vivid picture of life at Caistor in the 1930s, recalling a farming community and a way of life that has now all but vanished, in which he and his friends walked the 3 miles or so to school to save the penny bus fare and worked on the hay wagons to make extra money for their families. He rode on (and later drove) the tractors across the field of the Roman town, which would judder to a halt, wheels spinning, as the plough hit the walls of the buildings beneath. It was a fascinating snapshot of the more recent history of the Roman town, which we recorded for the project archives. We hope to make some of Eddie’s recollections available online in the near future.

In the world of the trenches, it is the forum trenches day off today. The levels of burning in trench 7 (the south wing) need some thinking about as they appear to be cut by the walls of what is believed to be Forum 1 (the first phase identified by Atkinson). So they burnt stuff must relate to some buildings that are earlier than Forum 1 (perhaps a wooden forum). So we clearly need to get down into it and get some dating evidence out of it.

Down in the north-west corner (no longer the world of the Teutons) we are starting to get down into the road levels and the first layer of road surface is off. There’s obviously another one underneath it, and probably another one after that. Meanwhile Ian P is disappearing into a large hole in the ground which is a very late (Roman) pit, full of lovely dark organic deposits, which we’ve sampled to death, applying the sampling strategy that “it looks interesting).

Meanwhile, Dr Bescoby continues his conquest of the west bank of the Tas, with his mighty magnetometer. First find is a large building, which sits next to the road that heads down to Colchester. Perhaps it is a mansio, a hostelry for weary travelers on the outskirts of the town. Or maybe a whopping great tomb. Who knows? We probably won’t find out in the lifetime of this project, so we’ll have to leave that one for the archaeologists of the future, who will doubtless have some whizzier technology than us. Bet they won’t have as much cake though, on which note we salute Chrissy, Sue, Helen, Jill, Ian, Ed’s mum, Brian and the Harleston U3A group, with apologies to anyone I’ve left out. We have consumed and enjoyed it all.

Ed and Phil enjoy the excitement of tile quantification

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