As promised, the morning was much cooler and overcast, making for a much more pleasant day for digging. No sign of rain and the sun did finally emerge occasionally by mid afternoon, but with a cool breeze to prevent the temperature rising to the heights of days six and seven.
Sean, Claire, Erin and I spent the morning helping the three-person pot washing/processing team at the tea hut; Sean and I managed to get through just two of the 20 or so bags waiting to be washed, sorted by type, weighed and logged. One of the bags was V13-59A, which we had helped fill on day seven, corresponding to the robber trench context. Seeing all the material produced from just the last couple of days made it clear how the site as a whole has so far yielded 500 tons of pottery. The time went by quickly, including a bag from V13-60A which consisted mostly of bone, while being entertained by a varied selection of jokes and songs from the thirties to the fifties from Eddie.
During the lunch break Andy took some of us over to the North Field for a quick look at the interesting developments there. Since the Canadian students left on Friday (day five) and their supervisory tandem of Alex and Beth also took a well-deserved break, the North Field trench has been quiet, but we had heard of some interesting news about one of the ditches. As they had pushed to define the ditch edges they had found more than they had bargained for, a cobbled surface that looks a lot like a road:
It will require a lot more digging to confirm it, but this just might be the first glimpse of the Stanegate at Vindolanda - the military road that was established in the 1st century AD under Agricola (ie: well before Hadrians Wall was built in 122). The line of the Stanegate is well known in many places on either side of Vindolanda, but has not been precisely located near the fort itself.
After lunch Sean and I returned to the trench and pushed further west into Claire's old trench. The depth at which the robber rubble ends and a more solid-packed, clay-like level begins remained about the same, except for an interesting spot near the southern edge. Here I found at least four fairly large and well situated mudstones forming something that looks more than just an accidental accumulation of stone; the clay around it also seems to be higher than the nearby parts of the trench. Justin Blake took a look and thought it might be consistent with a 4th C wall foundation; it will be very interesting to see how it pans out tomorrow as I remove the rubble overburden in the morning. Here's how it looked at the end of the day, with the possible wall foundation indicated by an orange arrow:
The only other news is that the huge flagstones at the eastern edge of the trench are not part of the intervallum road, but in fact are thought to be the floor from another late 4thC building. How they maneuvered those massive stones into position without modern equipment is amazing.