A Wonderful Start for Trench 3

As we move into week two of the 2015 season, let’s look back at everything that happened in Trench 3 last week at Bamburgh Castle.

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As is custom, the season started off with the students being inducted into the various aspects of the site, such as tours of both Trench 1 and Trench 3, as well as a finds induction provided by Jeff Aldrich and Simon Hayter. After this, the wonderful task of removing the tarps from the trench began. Every year it feels a little like unwrapping a birthday present, and this year was no different.

However, our beautiful trench was looking a little too green for our taste (while the tarp protects the underlying archaeology from rain and wind, it’s a wonderful environment for moss and other plant life to invade our beautiful contexts. Yuck).

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Thus, armed with trowels, leaf trowels and spoons (a vital archaeological instrument, to be sure), we cleaned the entire trench. ‘Cleaning’ is essentially a form of micro-excavation, where we remove only a millimetre or two of weathered soil to expose the contexts that are underneath. It took some days, but in the end I think the trench is looking very beautiful indeed.

It had been incredibly sunny all week, which had caused the contexts to all look fairly pale and dusty even after cleaning. A good watering with the hose and spray bottles revealed the true colours of the contexts (light browns, dark browns and oranges aplenty!), which makes a week of toiling in the heat really worth it.

It is also worth to mention that during our big trench clean, we also found a good number of interesting small finds, among which a styca coin, bone spindle whorl, clay bead and, most notably, a beautiful piece of a Roman bracelet made out of blue glass.

After we finished cleaning the trench, it was time to start excavating. We have had an interesting stone feature in the mid-north of the trench for the past two seasons, and on Saturday we lifted two of the feature’s large flat stones, revealing the archaeology underneath. We then proceeded to clean the newly exposed context and the area surrounding it for a photograph.

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In the coming week we aim to plan, half-section and sample the stone feature. We are also planning to remove a number of stones from the north-east corner of the trench that have been sitting there for many seasons. These stones will aid us in re-enforcing the section wall in the south-east corner.

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