We were back at Old Hall for three days of Test Pitting between 28th and 30th October courtesy of the Jarrolds. This was our final Test Pitting for 2016.
Over the course of the three days, and blessed with very amenable weather for the time of year, we dug Test Pits 36, 43, 44 and completed TP45 that had initially been worked on by the Young Archaeologists Club on Saturday.
TP43 and TP44 were located on the lawn of Old Hall whilst TP’s 36 and 45 were in the paddock where a number of Test Pits had previously been dug.
TP36 and TP43 each produced a single coin, and whilst both were in poor condition, the one from TP43 was just identifiable as a Gloria Exercitus two soldiers and one standard i.e typical of the mid 4th Century coins that we encounter when digging at Caistor. The TP36 coin will require further investigation.
Perhaps the nicest find from the three days was a copper alloy ear scoop although there was no sign of the other usual components of a Roman cosmetic set. This came out of TP36 following diligent sieving by Mick Collins.
Grateful thanks to all the CRP Members who worked so hard to complete the work within the three days. Additional thanks to Jenny for taking charge of tea and coffee making.
Make up your own captions!
Some time ago I put together a document attempting to list all of the known archaeological activity in and around Caistor St. Edmund. Whilst doing this Will mentioned that a Michael Brely had dug a kiln outside the north wall of Venta but that it had never been written up. I had never heard of this gentleman so not unnaturally my curiosity was piqued. I discovered that the Brely archive had been accessioned by the Museum so there was a good chance that the material was in store somewhere within the Museum service.
Enquiries led us to Nat who had diligently recorded the whereabouts of various boxes of Brely related material whilst working at the Shirehall. As she was due to be there again last week, and aware that access might otherwise be difficult owing to staffing levels, I took the opportunity to join her for a root around the basement.
There was insufficient time during the course of one afternoon to examine all of the Brely material but it appears that there has been several accessions over a number of years. Suffice to say that there is a fair amount of it, including both documents and finds. There is paperwork relating to the above-mentioned excavation of the kiln but what particularly caught my eye was his detailed notes recording the steady destruction of the site under ploughing between 1961 and 1972. Doing that time he field walked the area within the walls recording the level of damage in different sectors, handily shown on a drawing in one of his notebooks. Seems as though Scheduling of this particular site wasn’t all that effective!
Of particular interest in addition to the above was the fact that Brely made a record of all of the coins that he picked up during his field walking so that I now have another 254 Roman coins to add to the growing data we have on coin loss in and around Caistor. More to follow on this subject.
As I mentioned in the earlier update it appears that we have one of only four known examples of this particular stamp (referred to as a trade stamp by Kay Hartley) and they have all been found in Norfolk. Whilst pondering on this fact I took out the atlas of Norfolk and lo and behold it’s possible to lay a ruler and draw a straight line between Caistor and Denver running through Saham Toney and Upwell i.e all four finds sites for this particular stamp are on the line of the probable Roman road running between Caistor and Denver. (see map on p.29 of “An Historical Atlas of Norfolk” edited by Trevor Ashwin and Alan Davison).
Although fairly flimsy evidence in support of the road theory I think it is a quite exciting find on out part. What’s also interesting is that to date we haven’t found anything similar in all of the previously excavated material, although hot off the press, Nat spotted a piece of stamped grey ware whilst rummaging through Atkinson’s small finds last week and this bears a similar stamp (see image below).
The challenge now is to find where pottery bearing this particular stamp was made. Could there be evidence lurking amongst the Brampton assemblage for example?
Ever keen to broaden my horizons I have just returned from close encounters with Grizzly and Black bears in the remote north of British Columbia. The local First Nation people are called the Kitasoo Xai’xais and we were fortunate enough to be shown a number of pictographs whilst travelling by boat to and from various locations in the Great Bear Rainforest. This was an unexpected bonus so I thought I would share a couple of the images with you. Charlie our boat captain on a couple of days is the local hereditary chief and he explained that the pictographs usually indicate that the burial site of a chief is somewhere close by, typically in a cleft in the cliff face.