BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY ONE

Friday, July 24th 2015

Before the volunteers start arriving at the weekend an advanced team start working on locating and marking out the site of some of the trenches and de-turfing the soil.

It rained heavily for most of the day, but the diggers kindly provided by Bedford Borough Council bravely soldier on, getting very wet in the process.

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG

DAY 2

Saturday, July 25th 2015

 

Pictures from our first full day of excavation, including some of our finds.

Early days yet, as we have not yet reached the Roman layer, but are mainly digging through plough return

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY 3

Sunday, July 26th 2015

 

Unfortunately "rain stopped play" after just three hours today.

And then, as is often the case, once you have decided to call it a day, and send everyone home, the rain stops for the rest of the afternoon.

However, by 12.30pm people were cold and wet , despite the protection of the gazebos.

The good news is that we have already met one of our main objectives.

Specifically to locate the extension of the Roman wall first discovered in 2011. We can therefore add another 4 metres to its length, making it at least 13 metres in all, with more to be discovered in the next few days.

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY 4

Monday, July 27th 2015

 

Found our frst Roman coin today. While the surfaces are too corroded to be legible, it is definitely from the 4th century AD, probably the House of Constantine (330 to 360s AD). 

 

Also found some high-status Samian tableware from Central Gaul, from the mid 2nd century AD

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY 5

Tuesday, July 28th 2015

 

Another day, another bucket of dirt (or two) excavated from our site...

Pictures from today's excavations, along with some of our choice finds. These  include our first piece of Roman glass, possible a handle from a 2nd century AD bath house oil flask from the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

There was also Roman roof tile, a Mesolithic flint arrowhead from the end of the last Ice Age, and lots and lots of butchered animal bone. 

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY 6

Wednesday, July 29th 2015

 

HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY, HAPPY , HAPPY!!!

We have now found not just one, not even two, but THREE Roman walls.

This includes the extension of the herringbone wall running north-south, a possible internal wall about 16 metres from the roadside, and a back wall of the complex at 29 metres from the road. 

We have also now established that the west side of the wall is the internal part of the building, having found a mortar yellow floor abutting the herringbone wall on that side.

It is above this surface that we have found another piece of later Roman window glass all the way from Egypt,  datable to after 350 AD.

In the middle trench, where we are looking for a deposit painted wall plaster and fine stucco work, we have found waterproof plaster consistent with a bath house.

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY 7

Thursday, July 30th 2015

 

After the excitement of yesterday we find .....yet another wall. It seems archaeology is like buses. You spend years digging for a recordable feature then you find four in quick succession!

 

We were also pleased to welcome on site Geoff Saunders, who is Archaeological Officer, Planning Services at Bedford Borough Council, who came to inspect our works and to offer his advice.

We were also visited by the Manager and Assistant Manager of the Manton Heights Care Centre, which is run by Ranc Care Homes Ltd., who are the landowers of our site, and who have kindly granted us permission since 2011 to carry out excavations on their land. 

BEDFORD ROMAN DIG 

DAY 8

Friday, July 31st 2015

 

Manton Lane - the site that just keeps giving.

Had another brilliant day. Found two more 4th century Roman coins in trench 12.

However, Trench 10 was the big surprise. The wall we thought might be up to 1 metre thick turns out to be at least 2.5 metres wide and possibly curving. This is turning into being major feature.

The upshot is that what we have discovered is sufficiently significant, and requires further examination, that the growing consensus is we will need to extend this year's dig. Probably by returning after a one month's break in early September to expand trench 10 and explore this feature some more. 

It also looks like we may have enough structure surviving to now consider the possibility of putting this on permanent display, perhaps under the protective cover of a building that could also house a small museum and interpretive centre.

Follis of the Emperor Constantine I (the Great), dated precisely to 320 AD.

The obverse reads "CONS-TANTINVS AVG," helmeted, cuirassed bust right. Reverrse " VIRTVS-EXERCIT," two captives seated at the base of a standard inscribed VOT XX. S-F over HL across fields.

The mintmark is relatively clear and is Delta "SIS" with a star, which is for Siscia in Croatia
See: RIC VII Siscia 120.

Follis of the Emperor Constantine II, dated precisely to 326 AD.

The obverse reads "CONSTANTINVS IVN NOB C." The emperor is laureate, draped, cuirassed bust left. The reverse reads "PROVIDEN-TIAE CAESS", The image is of a camp gate, 2 turrets, 6 layers, star above, no doors.

The mint mark also survives. This is "STR," with an all-important dot in crescent to the right identify the year of issue.See: RIC VII Trier 479

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