Thursday, 21 December 2017

Ravenglass in the North West Regional Research Update project

The recent excavations at Ravenglass feature in the North West Regional Research Update project:

Funded by Historic England this is a two year project designed to update and widen the scope of the original North West Regional Research Framework project which concluded in 2007. It is being run jointly by the University of Salford’s Centre for Applied Archaeology, ALGAO North West and CBA North West

The report which mentions Ravenglass can be found at:

Then scroll down to:

and click to find out about Ravenglass set in its regional context.  It is a draft, so can be commented on.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Hadrian's Wall Archaeology Forum October 21st

"The Hadrian’s Wall Archaeology Forum is an annual day conference featuring talks for the general public about new discoveries in the Hadrian’s Wall frontier zone. This year’s programme of talks includes an update on the excavations at Vindolanda, the results of extensive geophysical surveys at Netherby, the discovery near Lanchester of a rare discharge diploma issued to a retiree from the provincial fleet in Germany, and the results of a community excavation at Piercebridge."

Kurt isn't going this year, but the programme looks really interesting. Booking details at:

Monday, 2 October 2017

Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier


Free Course starting 9th October 2017

Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Roman Frontier

"Explore the archaeology of the most heavily fortified frontier in the Roman Empire, its people and their lives

Hadrian’s Wall stretches over 73 miles (117 km), from coast to coast in what is now Northern England. The Wall, complemented by a sophisticated system of outposts and coastal watch stations, offers a remarkable glimpse of ancient society. In addition to housing one of the largest concentrations of Roman soldiers anywhere in the Empire’s provinces, Hadrian’s frontier system was home to an incredibly cosmopolitan array of civilians.

This six week course offers a comprehensive introduction to Hadrian’s Wall and its people and raises fascinating issues concerning colonisation, cultural transformation, immigration, integration and imperialism. We will explore life in the region before the construction of the Wall, the arrival of the Roman army and its impact on the local population. Detailed case studies will consider the different features of the Wall and its surroundings, considering the way in which the frontier system evolved throughout the Roman period. The changing face of both the Roman army and indigenous populations is richly illuminated through archaeological finds and reconstructions. To appreciate the range and character of native people, soldiers’ families, slaves, merchants and migrants, we will examine their homes, dress, diet, rituals and religious beliefs.

Drawing on the very latest research, we will investigate how archaeologists interpret evidence, considering:
  • the factors that determine the survival of evidence
  • the different methods of archaeological prospection used to detect settlement locations and better understand their organisation
  • the planning of archaeological projects
  • excavation techniques
  • and the detailed study of structures and artefacts.
As part of the course you can test your understanding of these methods with real case studies and participate in a series of archaeological experiments designed to help you appreciate the complexities of daily life on Rome’s most famous frontier."

Join this free course at:

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Day five - the final countdown ...

The final day on site had fine weather again. Remarkably, almost the entire week on site was dry, so we were lucky.

Test Pit 1 appears to have clipped a clay-line oven or kiln, with ash and charcoal layers suggestive of rakings-ou from the structure.

Test Pit 2 had a thick layer of ash found to over-lie the original Roman ground surface.

 TP5 - road surfaces overlying the base of the road

In Test Pit 5 a third layer of cobbles and pebbles prove to rest on a layer of boulders, apparently the base of a well-built road - presumably the main road north from the fort.  Probing indicated that the road was some 10 metres wide.

 Doug excavating the road base in TP5

In Test Pit 7, a post-hole and small ditch or beam-slot was cut into a layer of burnt clay.

From left to right: Doug, Steve, Bryan, Brian, Len, and Kurt at the Cafe

The trenches were then backfilled after tea and cake at the The Turntable Cafe at the La'al Ratty.

Alan, Len and Brian backfilling
That's the last day of digging news. Watch out for more posts about this season's campaign, including reports about the site finds, the Beach Walking finds, and Kurt's conclusions about the Test Pit excavations!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Day Four - Nearly t-shirt weather!

Remarkably fine (almost t-shirt) weather today!

In TP1, Alan found a clay wall associated with ash and charcoal layers (raking out?).  Len found further ashy layers in TP2. 

Ashy, stony surface in TP2

Closer to the fort, Doug was down to his third layer of cobble surface in TP5. This is looking increasingly the Roman road running north from the fort.
 Another cobble surfce in TP5

In TPs 6 (Bryan) and 7 (Anita & Steve), layers of burnt clay indicate yet more industrial activity.

We're very grateful to Debbie for the donuts which finished demolishing today!

Meanwhile, the finds team (Brian and Sandra) have finally finished sorting out the beach walking finds, which are now ready for sending off to the specialists when we can afford it. It was satisfying to see all the boxes lined up!

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Day Three - Come on Aileen?

We were remarkably free from rain after missing Storm Aileen, but some of the trenches were flooded.
 Clay ?flue (right in section), ash & charcoal (left in section)

In TP1 there is a possible clay wall with layers of ash and charcoal alongside the flue of a furnace.

TP2 has more stony, ashy deposits

Doug cleaning the cobble surface in TP5

TP5 was opened and immediately a cobble surface was uncovered - could this be the main road north from the fort to Hadrian's Wall?

Hungry heron at the 4pm feed

The finds team, sadly missing Leo for the moment, continued to sort through the twenty boxes at Muncaster Castle.  Despite being distracted by the Bird Displays, Brian and Sandra managed to get through the bulk of the finds boxes today.  Tomorrow the last few objects will be listed. But how many herons will turn up at tomorrow's 4pm feed?

Day Two - Steady progress

The weather continues to hold, and it looks like we've got Roman archaeology.

A cobble surface in TP1

 There is a stony, ashy surface in TP2 - Len sieving

Doug digging in TP3 

And there's a culvert in TP4

The finds team (Brian and Sandra) have re-located to a room in Muncaster Castle to prepare twenty boxes of beach walking finds for sending off to specialists. Everything needs sorting into categories (pottery, brick & tile, etc.) and bagged up.

Brian on the steps to the temporary finds room

 Some of the twenty boxes to process

Some eight boxes were sorted by the end of the day - how many can Brian and Sandra do tomorrow?

Monday, 11 September 2017

Day One - Good weather, nice trenches and nicer people

We've opened four trenches (Test Pits 1-4) looking for more evidence of the Roman vicus north of the fort. Len, Les, Alan, Chris and Doug helped Bryan and Kurt with the digging.

Les and Len in TP2 admiring their finds

We have indeed found evidence of the Roman vicus in this area! It looks very promising and we hope make more interesting discoveries tomorrow.

Alan and Chris working

And here's Bryan shovelling enthusiastically

Meanwhile in the dig HQ Brian, Leo and Sandra were investigating the finds gathered from Ravenglass beach in recent years. They are preparing the finds to be sent to the specialists.  However, they came across a very strange find!  Comment on the blog if you think you know what it might be ...

It is made of ceramic and is a very strange shape  ...

On the underside, it looks like it may have been attached to something
What will tomorrow bring?

Sunday, 20 August 2017

We're back ...!

 Rowan, Kurt, Sandra & Bryan

The whole team will be back in Ravenglass in September! This includes Bryan, Kurt and Sandra.  We will also be joined by Rowan this year!  Small test pits will be dug by Bryan, Kurt and Rowan with the help of local volunteers. Sandra will be weighing and counting the artefacts found on the beach, with a mind to asking specialists to quote for reporting on the items, as well as reviewing the brick and tile from the 2013-14 excavations.