Stephanie, Trench 3 Supervisor, gives the end of the season wrap-up:
Now that the 2014 season has come to an end, and all of the staff have returned to their respective home countries (myself included), it is time for me to update everyone on our last two weeks of excavation in Trench 3. Overall, the end of our excavation went smoothly, although we did have a few final surprises or “teasers” for what’s to come in the 2015 season!
Excavations in the SE corner had finished, so the area was photographed and then carefully planned and recorded. Also, the new layers were added to our previous section drawings of the SE corner. Finally, it was time to say good-bye to our beautiful section sides. The sides were successfully covered by a tarp that was nailed in place at the top and held in place by a short stonewall at the bottom. The tarp and stonewall should prevent erosion, preserving our sections sides for many years to come.
Meanwhile, excavations continued in the NW corner of Trench 3. A spread of jagged rocks had been visible since the 2012 season to the north of the mortar floor surface. As we excavated the area underneath and north of the mortar floor surface, we soon found that this spread of jagged rocks continued. We now believe that the spread of jagged rocks could be a path that runs from west to east, up to the bedrock, and thus up to a timber building that appears to have been cut into the bedrock. One of our first steps next season will be to excavate the path/spread of jagged rocks.
Elsewhere in the NW corner, we had to excavate a considerable depth below the mortar floor surface before any new features appeared. To the southwest of the floor surface, just north of Brian Hope-Taylor’s lower pavement/wall, patches of mortar are now appearing. Because this wall abruptly ends at the north, we think that the patches of mortar may be evidence that the northern-most stones were robbed away during the Middle Ages. To the west of the mortar floor surface, evidence for the western beam slot is still visible in the form of a thin, reddish-brown line running north to south. In the southeastern area under the mortar floor surface, patches of reddish-orange burning are now appearing. The same burning can also be seen in the stratigraphy of the NW corner’s section edge (which marks the divide between our excavation and Hope-Taylor’s excavation). Additionally four new post-holes in the NW corner were discovered during out last week of excavation, two under the mortar floor surface, one to the northwest, and one to the east. These post-holes will have to be investigated at the beginning of our 2015 season, but it already appears as though a few of these new post-holes form a line with previous post-holes in the north of Trench 3—interesting!
If these new features were not exciting enough, we also discovered our first Roman coin during the last week of our excavation. The bronze Roman coin is well preserved and displays the head of a Roman Emperor (likely an emperor from the late 4th century), on the obverse and Victory advancing left holding a wreath or trophy in her right hand on the reverse. Roman pottery has also been found in the area at about the same level. We know that we have not yet reached Roman layers in the NW corner, so we believe that the coin and pottery are either the result of medieval collecting or the result of animal burrowing that has disturbed the stratigraphy.
We are happy to say that the NW corner is now nearly at the same level as the rest of Trench 3 and nearly at the same level as Hope-Taylor’s ‘Trench 2’. The means that next season we will be able to remove the tarp from Hope-Taylor’s ‘Trench 2’ and expand our area of excavation, which should greatly aid us in investigating the NW corner’s relationship to the rest of Trench 3. I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are looking forward to a promising 2015 season!