Time Team Series 20, My Sixth Episode: Day 2

This will probably go down as one of the best Time Teams, largely because there have been so many wonderful finds. Now there’s absolutely no point in me listing them, as they’ll all be shown in every splendid detail in the broadcast next winter – I’d guess in January 2013, but more than that I can’t say, as the Channel 4 scheduling is not always that predictable. However, that’s another issue. So what has been unusual about this shoot?

The weather has so far been average. Day 1 was rainy later in the afternoon. Today has been much better: dry and largely cloudless. There has also been a pleasant breeze from off the North Sea, but the midges have been horrible after six in the evening. Yesterday they were grim: we were filming late, because a series of U.S. F15 fighters had decided to play around in the skies above us – leading to endless re-takes and a feast of blood for the circling midges. To be honest, it could have been a lot worse.

The main problem I’ve had to confront has centred around one’s definition of archaeology. The site we’re digging is protected by law, so I have a legal obligation to do the very minimum of damage. And that means I don’t want to dig more trenches than are absolutely necessary to achieve the objectives set down in the (many) pages of the Project Design. Part of the site was ploughed until a few years ago and there the damage has been quite serious: even buried Roman roads have been trashed. I planned a large trench in this area, but decided to curtail its size, when we saw what preservation was like there.

Back in the main fort, where ploughing has been banned for a long time, preservation has been vastly better, but the stone-robbing that took place in the past two or three centuries has done a lot of damage and there’s a thick layer of stone rubble, mixed with Roman pottery and other finds covering large areas of the site. The trouble is, that this disturbance, caused by people trashing the Roman buildings, is also part of the archaeology. If it wasn’t so annoying I suppose you’d say it was ironic. Anyhow, we can’t just machine these levels off, and they do prevent us from excavating down to the lower levels where our radar survey predicts that preservation will be far better. It’s all rather frustrating.I wonder if tomorrow will prove as challenging?

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