Day 15

26 Aug

A moment of contemplation in trench 7

Back at full strength again in the trenches. We are still removing layers of rubble and build-up in the forum trenches in the hope of getting down to the layers actually associated with the forum walls. In the ever-lovely trench 8 we now have the basilica pavement exposed. It’s a fairly grotty thin plaster surface over a gravel make-up layer, so possibly there was something nicer over it which was robbed in antiquity. For this we could perhaps blame the Teutons (see Day 13), giving their grubenhäuser a Roman-themed makeover with some natty bits and bobs from the forum – “Yes, Eadburh found them in a marvelous little architectural salvage place – he has such an eye for detail”.

Down in the less Teutonic trenches 4 and 5 we do have the enclosure ditch that we picked up on the geophysics. After it rained on Wednesday, bringing out all the colours of the soil, Giles leapt into the trench and began drawing shapes on the ground like a crazed Tony Hart, marking out ephemeral post-holes before they all disappeared again. The enclosure ditch has been a persistent feature throughout but has become more convincing of late, possibly through the sheer force of belief. Meanwhile Ian P has been knocked out by a bug, possibly caught from a bit of cake he ate after dropping it on the ground (icing side down) and so the bottomless pit has been bottomed by someone else.

In trench 6, Neil has been trying to trace a robber trench that was half-removed by Donald Atkinson but which is rapidly expanding to take up a large part of the trench. It’s possible that Neil’s judgment may have been clouded by the shock of Norwich City’s Carling Cup exit at the hands of MK Dons (a move that he argues is intended to lull Chelsea into a false sense of security prior to the Canaries’ visit to Stamford Bridge this weekend). A robber trench, by the way, is a trench left by the removal of a wall by people who are after the stones (rather than being a ditch for footpads to hide in). This one suggests that the forum walls were at least partly standing in the Middle Ages as the robbing of the masonry occurs from a very high level.

Lots of good suggestions for earwig traps have been coming in, including used tins with a bit of cooking oil in (attracts them in and drowns them) and bamboo cane (into which they all crawl) which can then be taken away and disposed of. Dr Ed takes his clothes to the launderette and releases a great shower of earwigs when he pulls his pants out of the bag. They won’t invite him again.

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