This morning at the dig, the sun returned and everything was glorious once more. Each day there are different groups of people sprinkled in among now rapidly becoming familiar faces which means each day there are more to spread out. We, in Ken’s team, were put into the trench dug in the rain yesterday, prepared to trowel back, looking for the elusive wall.
Before we could start, however, Big John scoured the area with his metal detector, marking likely spots with little plastic sticks. One in the top right hand corner he announced “is definitely a coin”. When Ken asked people to pick a spot, I waited a nanosecond then chose the coin one! Ken made some comment about my haste but I just said “Quick and dead, Ken, quick and dead.” More like just desserts, as it turned out. I scraped away at the spot but there was nothing. Eventually Big John returned and, using his detector, sifted through the soil until he found a piece of lead about the size of the dot on top of this ‘i’. Ken told me to fill in the hole I’d made and not to do it again. But he smiled when he said it.
After lunch the northern end of the aisled hall trench had dried out enough for us all to trowel in it. So we left the new trench and returned to the old one. As I’m so good at finding nothing, Ken put me in the trench between any finds, knowing I’d not bother digging any more holes if all I managed to find was sand. Suffice to say the rest of the day was spent scraping off about 50mm from the top of the trench.
At the end of each day George takes us all round the entire site, explaining and interpreting what the day has wrought. Over the week he has explained to us what an aisled hall is, how it stood in relation to a villa and what we continue to look for. It’s an excellent way to keep up with the dig as a whole when you’re generally lost in your own little section.
Just to see if I have it correct, here’s my version of George’s explanations (based to a large extent on Barry Cunliffe).
An Aisled Hall
The first inhabited structure on the site. It would have comprised four walls, a row of posts and a thatched roof. It would probably have been made of wood although the foundations were (obviously) stone. I say obviously because that’s what we’re finding. As time went on, the hall was divided into sections (rooms) with the animals having one end and the humans the other. When the villa was built, the aisled hall would have become a barn and possibly housed some sort of industry.
Relationship of Structures
The Aisled Hall was at the southern end of probably a three sided courtyard. As you faced the hall, to your left was the villa and to your right another large structure (having not found this one, it’s hard to say what it was or when it appeared). Behind you there may have been a stone or wooden wall which closed off the courtyard. In this wall there would have been an entrance. In the previous dig (2002/03 ?) a bath house was found outside the southern wall of the aisled hall.
At present the trenches are continuing to follow the lines of the buildings, hoping to map out the entire complex. This initial year is to give George some idea of where to dig with more effect next year.
My apologies to George or Barry or John Manley or anyone who actually knows what they’re talking about if the above is a load of old tosh…
This is a drawing of what the Stroud Roman villa probably looked like.