WEEK 2 - Wednesday 9th July
An independent project responsible for rescue excavations in Church Meadow, Ewell. The site is towards the north-east extent of the known Roman roadside settlement.
THE THIRD SEASON OF EXCAVATION IN CHURCH MEADOW EWELL
The final season of excavation is due to start on 2nd July and for the next three weeks more than 90 volunteers will be working in the trench, processing finds or metal detecting to recover small metal finds. The tents and compound has been set up, the portaloos and equipment has been delivered and four days of excavation by JCB has readied the 65m x 10m trench.
We are ready to go.
THURSDAY 3rd JULY
The first couple of days have now been completed. The diggers have been working hard to start clearing the remnants of the ploughsoil from the underlying clay. Evidence for deep ploughing is evident all the way up the trench but features cut into the natural are beginning to be uncovered. Already the trowelling is hard going with the lack of rain causing the clay to dry out and crack - rather reminiscent of last year when we had no rain for three weeks! The weekend weather forecast promises rain which may be a blessing if we do not go from drought to quagmire.
The finds team has started washing, drying and marking finds from the trench, and the metal detectorists are finding a good number of small denomination Roman coins which will help us identify areas of activity and general dating of the settlement, as well as specific dating of features.The items of personal adornment such as Roman brooches and hair pins, together with everyday pottery, give us a glimpse into the lives of the residents of Roman Ewell.
Day1 of CME14 - Area J has been re-opened this year to explore features found in 2013
FRIDAY 4th and SATURDAY 5th JULY
The last couple of days have been a contrast weather-wise. Friday was hot and sunny, making trowelling on the clay hard going for the 30+ volunteers in the trench. By Saturday it had rained overnight and several showers during the day had us running for cover. Barrow boards into the trench had to be covered in chicken wire to give some grip [thank you to our metal detectorist Mairi] but the rain had softened the remaining ploughsoil, making things easier.
St.Mary's churchyard with the excavation in the background
Left - Michelle excavating an area of pot that may be in a ditch
Below- a close-up of the sherds of a bead rimmed storage jar
Work is being done to tie in past excavations carried out in both the churchyard and the meadow to the current work. The total station, lent to the project by Surrey Archaeological Society, has enabled us to map the field, its trenches and topography.
Find of the week
The Gnome of Church Meadow
Amongst the [mainly Roman] finds found during the first week our favourite is this hollow metal-cast gnome. He is likely to be Victorian in date or later. His feet were found one day on the spoilheap and the rest of hime was recovered the following day. He measures just 4cm in height.
A view you often see of archaeologists !
Examining something of interest?
The rain on Saturday brought up the soil colours clearly showing the darker trench [running diagonally from top left] from Professor Clive Orton's 2000 excavation
END OF WEEK 1 - 6TH JULY
The end of the first week brought some clarification in the features beginning to appear. All the volunteers have worked hard and much of the ploughsoil overlying the natural has been removed. A number of pits have been identified and they will be sectioned next week. Hopefully we will be able to get environmental samples [ minimum of 60 litres] that will then be put through the flotation tank to recover charred seeds, shells, small mammal and bird bones. Excitingly a ditch and associated gully are beginning to show up; it might mirror the ditch and gully we found previously [see the 2013 dig Diary] and may be the evidence we need for the alignment of Stane Street. Any metalling of the road seems to have been ploughed out, but the parallel ditches about 10m apart might line a road corridor.
Archived 9th October, 2014
DAbove - excavation in the trench at the end of a tiring first week
Left -a dark linear feature, which could be
a roadside ditch, cut into the natural clay
Whilst surrounding areas had torrential downpours yesterday Church Meadow seems not to have benefitted. The metal detectorists are getting poor signals in the trench because the soil is so dry, and volunteers are trowelling and spading only with much effort.
At the south end of the trench much of the day was spent clearing the area around the pit to clarify its dimensions and any features in the vicinity before an overhead was taken.
Left- a general overhead shot of most of the 65x10m trench looking TrN.
Right - an overhead of the pit in Area J and surrounding features
Excavation began today of another pit further up the trench in Area P. Samples of soil were taken for environmental analysis. We have kindly been lent a flotation tank by Surrey County Archaeological Unit [SCAU] and the samples will be processed on site over the next few days. Fill from other pits will be treated in the same way.
Above - The remains of the previously mentioned large bead rimmed pottery storage jar found in the ditch fill [now cleaned up for photography]
Friday 11th July
The trench has finally had some rain which has made trowelling easier for the diggers, and the features are standing out against the natural so we can better see them. There are now three Roman pits open and environmental samples are being taken. The soil will be put through the flotation tank to find charred seeds and grains, molluscs and small animal bone. Water is pumped through the soil using a generator and submersible pump, hired with a grant from the Council for British Archaeology, and the samples will be analysed off site over the winter by our environmental supervisor Michelle and other volunteers
An overhead view of what may be a latrine pit
Right - Michelle and Marios taking a column sample of the fill of a half sectioned pit - if it is a latrine pit we might get evidence for what our Roman Ewell residents were eating and growing......
Left - Celia putting a soil sample through the flotation tank
Below - part of the display for our Open Day tomorrow, 12th July, which runs in conjunction with Ewell Village Day and The CBA Festival of Archaoelogy
15.7.14. Note - apparently the gnome has been AWOL from the webpage for the last few days. He must have been on a walkabout!
End of Week 2
Two-thirds of the way through the excavation and all volunteers have been working enormously hard. The finds team are sorting , washing and marking finds and keeping the many records up-to-date. The environmental team have been putting more soil samples from the pits through the flotation tank. In the trench work continues to clarify what we think are a roadside ditch and gully [plus possible recuts], the 'latrine'pit and three other pits to the north end of the trench which appear to be flint and mortar-lined [ might they be similar to our amphora pit from 2012-3, which we have re-opened this season to get to the bottom of?]. They are deliberately constructed and are likely to have an industrial function e.g. tanning or fulling, which would be appropriate on the edge of the settlement. A gully which seems to run at a right angle to the line of Stane Street has been uncovered ; it is likely to be another property boundary, as was found on the other side of the road in 2012.
A flint lined pit in Area P
A part sectioned pit at the junction of Area Q/R
Above and Left - Children from Bourne Hall Museum Club spending a session trowelling. They then sieved soil on the spoilheaps to retrieve
'treasure' before washing their finds back in the compound.
Jenny, our Roman tour guide
More than 200 people visited the site as part of The Festival of Archaeology and Ewell Village Day on a sunny Saturday [12th July] . The following day we were visited again by children from the Bourne Hall Museum Club who were very enthusiastic in their digging, not even put off by the rain . The visit was organised by David Brooks from BHM and supervised by Ian West. Thanks to them and everyone on site for making it such a successful weekend.
Isobel and Ann shading themselves from the sun whilst manning the bookstall at the Open Day
Many thanks to all who worked so hard to make CME14 such a success.
The dig diary records day by day progress and as such interpretations change - that's archaeology for you.
WEEK 3 - Friday 18th July
The last week of the excavation and the temperature is rising -hot and humid with thunderstorms forecast. Not ideal conditions for finishing digging and recording features ! The pit in Area J has descended to a layer of flint and deposited horse bone - the ' latrine pit' has now become a ritual pit, similar to those found at Hatch Furlong, a site on the outskirts of modern Ewell in the 2000's.
The ritual pit in Area J
Thursday 17th July
Beneath the flint and horse bone was found a cow skull. We may not be able to excavate any deeper because of the weather and H&S constraints.
Found it the section of a pit in Area Q/R is this copper alloy decorated object. It may be a dolphin handle of a type used as carrying handles on 2-3rd century legionary helmets.
This Maxey type Bow and Fantail brooch was found in Area I and dates to the late 1st century AD. Very few have been found in this country , mainly in East Anglia. How did this example find its way to Ewell?
Left - this Dupondius of Vespasian was found in the Amphora pit excavated in both 2012 and 2013, and re-opened this year to complete investigations. It was found beneath the flint, chalk and mortar lining and may have been deposited beneath an earlier amphora. The coin was minted in 71-72 AD and is in very good condition.
After the end of the official dig work continued for a week - finishing off the exploration of features, recording, metal detecting and backfilling of the trench. We finally got to the bottom of the amphora pit which had been opened for the third year running. It is likely that three amphorae had been sunk into the pit over its lifetime and prior to that the pit had started life as a plank-lined well [as seen left].
Amongst finds in the well were this dish [left] and bead rimmed jar [right]. The dish may have been a termination deposit when the well went out of use or it may have been an opening deposit behind the planking. When these artefacts are dated, together with other finds,they should help us date the well.
This amphora rim [below] was found in the latest ditch fill of what is thought to be the Stane Street roadside ditch.
Above - Mairi, metal detectorist, checking the amphora pit/ well for any residual metal
Right - Dave, metal detectorist, with a Roman brooch he had just found on the last day on site
CME14 Interim Report as
published in SyAS Bulletin 451, June 2015