Find it, name it, grid it, fill it,
Cut it, talk it, now – dig it,
Move it, trowel it, hit it, mattock it,
shovel it, spoil it, don’t – stop it,
See it, bag it, sample it,
Tag it, plan it, level it, not – finished it,
Clean it, pose it, snap it,
Write it, Chaz it, scan it, now – blog it…..

Ok, so I’ve changed the lyrics of Technologic… this is Archaeologic… read it, fast …in the style of ‘Daft Punk’, and you get a taste of our mad dash to finish Zone 3 before the deadline….that was Friday, and the last deposits and features frantically dug were black charcoal rich silty lenses with yellow brick earth infilling a myriad of inter-cutting quarry pits. This deposit, it seems, was purposefully used to landscape this area of the cemetery, into which were cut the footings of a building… Yes …a building, the one I introduced in a “Midsummer Night’s Dream”:…..“the course of true love never runs smooth” …Puck….shape shifting…a mausoleum…and all that. Oh, you didn’t read it?… That’s ok..I think it was mainly popular in in Chile…


Will’s slot

So to fill you in… The first tentative evidence we have had for a structure in the cemetery was in Zone 3. This took the form of two parallel linear-shaped spreads 4 metres apart and about 1.1 metres in width, on an East-West alignment which appeared to join at right angles a third North-South linear studded with demolition material including tegulae imbrex, opus signinum mortar and tesserae from destruction of a Roman building. This evidence suggested to us we may have uncovered the robbed foundation trenches of a structure, perhaps a columbarium or a mausoleum. Understanding the remains of this structure however, was always going to be difficult. This is because key sections where each of these linears met were truncated. Robbed and badly beaten up, this structure if it was a building was never going to be looking at its best….but who cares if your dreaming about finding a mausoleum…


Roman building

The trouble with dreams however is that they always get a bit odd, and as soon as Liz started to dig the East-West trench Context: 1471 & Context: 1482 (cut in half by the Victorian drain Context: 1444), and I began the North-South one Context: 1478…things didn’t go smooth. We found no evidence for concrete footings or foundation trenches full of mortar and discarded stone and tile characteristic of a robber trench. The base of the East South trench was also unexpectedly narrow at around 30-40 cms in width …but it gets worse….it was also deeper than the North-South trench and oddly had a square shaped slot at its end. A large modern intrusion had crucially cut the point where our two excavated trenches actually met, so given the evidence at this point, maybe this is not a building after all…but a series of ditches…damn.. I don’t dream of ditches….if this was a dream…this was a good moment to wake up..


North wall [1471] & [1482] initially excavated by Liz. Note the square end to the slot.

Fortunately, this was not necessary as no linear could be found along the same alignment as these two trenches…but talk of ditches would not now go away…our feature had become a magnet attracting controversy. Nevertheless, a Midsummer Night’s Dream and a mausoleum on the quiet was sort of back on, but it only takes one ditch to crash…ouch…and the remaining East-West linear Context: 1455 had not yet been dug. It went like this…about 20 cms below the surface of its upper fill Context: 1456 a dump of roughly worked blocks of chalk Context: 1508 was uncovered….umm…maybe this is foundation material discarded during a phase of robbing activity of our building? A nice start.. began to go horribly wrong when the fill of the linear started to become much deeper then the North-South trench…worse…it cut into it… much much worse…seemed to head beyond it….er…like a ditch would ….damn it. Here, archaeology, just like Puck, was shape shifting before my eyes… coping with the moments disappointment my brain decided to conjure up those Hamlet cigar ads that used to be on tv…so….I lit a (metaphorical) cigarette…sat down on the metalling inside our fast disappearing mausoleum gazing down at the cut, which shouldn’t be there, repeating silently a word that rhymes with Puck whilst ‘Air on a G string’ filled my head drowning out the noise of the nearby piler. Picturing myself having to tell Guy “…it’s a ditch after all…” I began to excavate the cut knowing dreams of a mausoleum hung by a thread…well by the end of my mattock…and yes it did cut deep into the North-South trench, but extraordinarily half way across the trench base it turned South, then back on itself thereby creating a neatly shaped rectangular slot. This feature effectively mirrored the slot in Liz’s trench but there was lost by being truncated. The bottom of trench Context: 1455 likewise considerably narrowed to around the same width as Liz’s… ….so no more Hamlet…it’s a building after all!


South wall [1455]. Note the squared end of the slot.

Happy ending…End of story…..No not quite…lying at the bottom of this foundation trench amongst some Roman tiles was a large fragmented slab of white marble Context: 1591, a find type unparalleled from our previous zone.


Marble slab

The slab was decorative evident by its smoothed surface, and upper face displaying one curved edge and indications too of another carrying a series of convex and concave folds. Miraculously, this piece had not ended up in a Medieval lime kiln, and even for the most skeptical represented the robbed décor of no ordinary building or monument…was our building then a mausoleum?….Don’t know…Why not? ..It was a dream.. but maybe I should have titled this Daft Punk chasing an enigma in Zone 3.