So, I have been here for two months now and these months have been very interesting and I have learnt a lot. Before I came here I had never excavated anything Roman at all, but for the past couple of weeks I have had Roman burials; inhumations as well as cremations, and Roman deposits to work with! The finds from these activities has been mostly pottery (Samian and other types) but also a few coins.


Liz excavating context (1049)

A few weeks ago I finally found my first Roman cremation consisting of an urn Context: 1049 and its fill Context: 1048 that contained burnt bone and soil. This urn was positioned upside down in the ground and it looked like half of the urn was broken. I had to be extra careful with the rest of the soil around it and look out for all the small pieces of bone because since it had been turned with the bottom up it was likely that its fill had spilt out.

Osteoarchaeologist Natasha Powers and conservator Liz Goodman from the Museum of London guided me in the lifting of the urn so that as much of it and its fill could be kept. As had been the procedure before on site with other cremation urns wrapped up with bandages, this time I only made sure I had enough soil around the urn, both on the sides and in the bottom to keep all the pieces of pottery and pieces of bone together and then lifting everything.


Liz in action

The urn was located in an area that contained several cremations. The reason for the urn being up side down is a bit unclear, but maybe it had been found when the area was in use for something else than a burial ground and then been put back into the ground not very carefully. Or is it possible that it just tipped over at some stage?


Cremation urn (1049)

The week after that my luck continued and we found more burials, inhumations this time in the southernmost part of Zone 1. As had been the case earlier when we had found inhumations, the ground is very high acidic, which leaves the bones in a very poor condition. As Gary mentioned last week in his blog the excavation of the burials was quite complicated because of the degraded bones.

The burial I excavated, Context: 1006, had an east-west orientation. Unfortunately, its lower body was completely absent due to a modern drain that had truncated the burial. Basically, only some parts of the skull, the right hand and left and right humerus (upper arm bone) were more or less there. The bones were very hard to lift and there were no finds in the burial. This area had a few more inhumations which were all in very poor condition but some of them had grave goods. Also nails were found located on the side of the bones, whihc may have been possible coffin nails.

We are now working hard in Zone 2 and enjoying the lovely weather at the same time. A couple of soakaways are being excavated right now and also a horn core pit which is pretty cool-looking actually!

For more images click here