19 August, 2013

A Post Mostly Not About Birds

No, no, I didn't go to Pendeen yesterday. I suppose I should have, but after all Saturday's fun there was no way it was going to happen.

But no more on THAT.

Yesterday I found bugger all to post of about the Patch, got some Stuff done that really needed doing [it was DIY - really out of my comfort zone, but what the hell] and went on a little field trip.

This was to a field [yes, really being literal] near Ipplepen, which aside from having an interesting name, is mostly a village between Newton and Totnes. Anyway, after a couple of chaps with metal detectors found lots of Roman coins in several fields, it is currently home to a very interesting archaeological dig, and yesterday they had an Open Day. There being no mega-rare yanks swept over with the weather [That have been found.] [Yet.] I went along to have a nose.

It was very interesting, the reports in the media I'd heard were all very wrong [what a shock!], and despite catching a very frisky shower, it was well worth the trip. It was also very busy - much more so than the poor folks on site were expecting - which is a good thing for Science, but not so good when you're trying to hear what the poor guide is trying to say..

Here are a couple of dodgy mobile shots of the bit they were showing us;

The dark bits are ditches; red-white tape in a ring ditch, suffering guide by Romano-British field ditch

More of the ring ditch - older ring ditch branching from it - plus slightly better view of later straight ditches

A brief summary of the 25m square site; a ring ditch which may have been for a round house, or an animal enclosure; several Roman-style field ditches [straight, the Iron Age ones are curved]; several pits, possibly used for storage - one lined with slates*; a humungously deep ditch, purpose and age yet to be ascertained, but through the ring ditch**; lots of assorted post holes, from Iron Age to Modern fence lines!
All of these were cut into the bedrock - no mean feat in the nice hard metapelites and metavolcanics.

[*Also with a hole in the bottom. I suspect an Iron Age bath! ;) ]
[**It took out the centre of the ring ditch, which would have held a big post hole if there had been a hut circle there. There was a single bit of pottery in it, but this is yet to be dated.]

I'll not go into everything I learned [not least because the site is very complex and the archaeologists are still very unsure about it!], suffice to say it could well be very important. There could be 'proper' Romanisation here - with civilians living a Roman lifestyle - which is unheard of in the area. Previously, away from the Legionary Fortress at Exeter, all that has been found in Devon and Cornwall is military - ie. the locals putting up with rather than buying into Roman 'civilisation' - so evidence that people were living the Roman way out in the sticks would be a big thing.

Certainly there seems to have been a settlement there since the Bronze Age, through the Iron Age, and possibly into the Mediaeval. Roman pottery has been found - along with the mass of coins which started the whole thing off - though not huge amounts and it includes local knock-offs of Samian Ware [fancy roman stuff]. Whether that is someone trying to look more roman than their finances allowed, or some enterprising soul using local clay to make pottery for sale to more romanised people elsewhere is another question among many.

Ok, enough burbling about archaeology - the Joy of Work beckons!

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