As I mentioned in a previous posting there have been a few other examples of the criss-cross patterned trademark stamp that we came across on the rim sherd found during the excavation of TP40. One complete example comes from Saham Toney and I have reproduced a scan of the complete stamp courtesy of Kay Hartley.
I’ve been pressing on with work on identifying the coins from the recent Wymer field excavation over the past couple of weeks and thought I would give you a progress report. A total of twenty four coins were recovered from Trench One and these vary in condition from very fine, as in the case of the Allectus example, to “well it’s no doubt a coin but I can’t actually make out anything at all”. Not at all helpful when you are on as steep a learning curve as yours truly. However after much head scratching and poring over reference books and websites I have managed to make a preliminary identification of almost all of the coins. I stress that it is a preliminary identification and I would hope to get Andy to vet my findings when he is able to do so. Once I have photographed the coins I will post one or two images of the nicer examples so you’ll be able to see some of the fruits of all your hard work. I will do the same for the other Small Finds as well, and I promise not to include any images of nails!
Anyway back to the coins. As stated above we recovered twenty four coins from Trench One, and not one of them had the decency to be sitting in the bottom of any of the ditches. What we can say with reasonable confidence is that they very much reflect the pattern of previous coin finds from Wymer field i.e a high proportion are from Reece Period 17 (AD 330 – 348). By way of a reminder a total of one hundred and twelve coins have been retrieved from the field by metal detectorists in the past. The detectorists concerned have been kind enough to provide us with the data relating to their finds so that I have been able to analyse the pattern of coin distribution from Wymer field and compare it with the other Caistor sites, i.e the town, Temple and Old Church Close, Dunston field and Park field. I will come back to this topic on another occasion.
What I would say, by way of conclusion today, is that one of the most striking features from analysing the pattern of coin distribution is the extent to which Wymer field and indeed Dunston field differ from what would be expected from a Roman site in Britain. In both cases Reece Period 17 coin finds are at least twice the British Mean i.e when the data is adjusted to ensure that we are comparing like with like. What this all means is of course another matter entirely but do feel free to speculate.
Another question to consider is this. Is the coin loss in Wymer field unusually high and if so why? Given that we hit water in the outermost ditch is it possible that there was a spring close to where we struck water and the sizeable coin loss represents a significant footfall of people making there way to and from the spring. I believe this has already been put forward as a possible explanation so I can’t lay claim to it myself.
Those of you who dug with me at 4 Markshall cottages earlier this year will recall that we came across a very interesting sherd from a mortarium. The sherd was from the rim and had a partial stamp on it. We recognised that the fabric was somewhat different to what we were used to seeing and given the presence of the stamp I guessed that we had a good chance of getting it identified.
Following consultation with Alice I sent the sherd off to Kay Hartley an expert in the field of mortaria. Kay has sent me a summary of her findings to date and I reproduce below some of the salient points:
“The broken stamp is composed of criss-cross motifs. It is from the same die as stamps from Denver, Saham Toney and Upwell. The complete stamps show a stamp composed of two lines of identical motifs with dots inside the ‘diamond’ shapes on each line. The fabric shows some variability in colour. The distribution and fabrics would best fit a source in Norfolk.
The rim profiles associated with all known mortarium stamps appear to be definitely second century and not necessarily early”.
As those of you who took part in the recent excavations in Wymer Field will know we had some very nice finds and as I am finding my way around my new camera and using the Small Finds as my guinea pigs, as it were, I thought I would share some images of the work in progress.
Military Head Buckle
Copper Alloy Scoop
Copper Alloy Pin
You will be disappointed to learn that the almost complete pot recovered from the top of the inner ditch was not packed with gold solidi. Knowing that it was in a potentially fragile condition, owing to a number of visible cracks, I wrapped it, in mummy fashion, with copious layers of fabric bandaging before doing anything with it apart from giving it a cursory clean of the outer surface.
After three hours plus of very careful picking away at the contents I finally reached the bottom. Apart from a few specks of charcoal the main point of interest was a slightly darker and harder material adhering to the inside of the pot. This is visible on the left hand side of the photograph below. There are also some streaks of red on the inner surface – see top right hand corner of photograph.
Further news on the coin I featured the other day. I wasn’t 100% certain that it was Valentinian on the Obverse as I was unable to find a match for the field marks on the Reverse in the reference books I own. However I know a man who has the full set of Roman Imperial Coinage and he’s come up trumps. The good news is that I got the correct dynasty, only the Emperor was Gratian, son of Valentinian rather than the man himself. I also managed to decipher the mint mark correctly as Lyon so I think I’m making progress albeit slowly on the coin ID front. The coin is dated to AD375-376. Many thanks to Andy for helping me out with this one.