We’re getting close to the end of the 2023 season, and the students are hard at work finishing the final tasks and aims of their trenches. For some, this included cleaning and taking final photos and photogrammetry, whilst others continue to expose sections of rampart. We also had our final schools session today, which was another fantastic success. Over this season we have had over 120 pupils visit site for tours and finds handling, and both pupils, teachers and archaeologists have really enjoyed the sessions!

Trench 3 – Paulina

Today was our last official day of digging in trench 3 before we start backfilling later this week! It was another hot day, so we slowed down and made our aim for the day to complete a full section drawing of our entire trench. We also finished cutting a slot into the outer rampart of the fort, allowing us to investigate the bedrock and natural deposits lying underneath the rampart. We discovered that the rampart on the Western end of our trench was built on top of a natural soil deposit rather than on top of bedrock, bringing up some questions about the construction and purpose of the stepped bedrock on the other side of our trench. We continued finding pieces of quartz, animal bone, and vitrified material from metalworking within and below the stones making up the rampart. We also found a few pieces of prehistoric pottery in this context! Not only did I learn how to create a section drawing by measuring the precise positions of the various contexts and stones embedded into the side of our trench, but I also learned the importance of drawing a section. Seeing the exact position and order of deposition of the contexts allows us to better understand and date the construction of the rampart. Creating this drawing and cleaning up our trench with trowels and brushes also helped us to prepare for our last round of photogrammetry. This will allow us to capture the final appearance of our trench from all angles, creating a 3D model and documenting our progress of excavation over the past three weeks.

Trench 5 – Clair

Today we spent the day recording trench 5 and the surrounding landscape. Within the trench the students have made amazing progress and have been working hard removing the layers of soil to uncover the bedrock, although we are coming to the end of our digging now. Myself and all the students are feeling more confident in doing tasks without instruction and using tools without any guidance. Today the team got to enjoy lunch in the sunshine. I have struggled working in the heat and have ensured I take breaks when required, the team are really good at working as a together and helping each other when needed.

Trench 6 – Morven

Our aims for today were to straighten up the banks of the rampart to make it easier to do drawings of the trench later on. Our other aim was to try and uncover a possible face of the rampart at the bottom of the trench. We were able to clean up the sides of the rampart and spent a long time cleaning up the rubble that came from it. Although we had cleaned up the bedrock at the back of the trench earlier on, there was a layer of compacted soil over it that had been trampled on so we needed to remove this. We have mainly been using the trowels and the shovels today to get the rubble out, but did also do some sampling of the soil which will be analysed in the labs. We found a lot of cannel coal fragments today and also a larger piece of cannel coal which we think could have been some type of counter. Due to us finding so much cannel coal, I have definitely become better at identifying it. We have come to the conclusion that the face of the rampart is probably further back than the area we were digging at the bottom of the trench.

Trench 8 – George

Today we have uncovered a few different deposits and possible structures in trench 8 and finished with the extra ancillary trench at the eastern end. The goals for today were to get as far down as possible before we begin to backfill on Thursday. 

At the start of the day, we finished up the section drawing for trench 8, and kept digging across mostly the whole trench. Adhering to the 1.2m depth for safety, we carefully but quickly dug down, in the hopes of revealing anything beneath that could further help identify the site. In the middle of the trench, where the bank stood, we found a possible metalled cobbled structure, that has been cleaned and analysed. We have also dug a deeper hole beneath the rubble in the eastern end of the trench, coming across a very different wet grey clay. In the western end the digging continued for samples of the clay beneath the rubble, and a possible surface was uncovered, that will be expanded on during our open day tomorrow.

Overall, today was about consolidation of recording and documentation of the trench dimensions and depths. As well as some last-minute discoveries, the new stratigraphy and surfaces we have found will help relate the finds today to the history and timeline of this area of Dunsapie.

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