June 15 Day 2 Maryport
First day of the Roman Museum dig. I was awake at 5:30 and finally got up at 6. The tide was mostly in compared to yesterday and the windmills were very visible. Steve had left out a ham and cheese sandwich with mustard and cheese for me so that and my last scone and two cups of tea were my breakfast. I was ready to go and waiting for Bill at 7:40. We drove to the Holiday Cottages where everyone but Bill and I are staying. We are the oldest. They have a pretty nice set-up with 3 cottages with full kitchen facilities in each. I plan to buy some breakfast and lunch items that I can leave here in their fridge and will be able to join them for breakfast. It is only about a 4 minute walk from my hotl.
We were on the site at the Senhouse Roman Museum at 8:30. It was damp and breezy. I had not brought a jacket because the forecast had called for sun and warmth. I put on a t-shirt that I had and with my long sleeved shirt it was bearable. We spent time in the Museum lecture hall and Ian gave us a brief history of the site and previous year's work. Then he gave us a tutorial on stratigraphy analysis. I was totally lost on the first exercise but with the help of Elliott I was able to do much better on the second. For lunch I had slim pickings because I thought there was a food concession on site. There was but all it sold was sweets. I'll know better for tomorrow.
After lunch we had instruction on surveying and how to determine instrument height, back and forshots and calculating elevation. This took about an hour after lunch so at 2:30 we went to the actual dig site. A back hoe had been used to scrape off the overburden and bring the site down to the level just above any potential features. Here are a couple of shots of the site with folks working hard.
You can imagine how impossible it would have been to do this by hand. The height of the topsoil (disturbed) on top of the natural soil (undisturbed) is about 2 feet at the top of the site grading down to about 1 foot at the bottom. At this stage the only tool being used is a 3 or 4" mason's trowel to scrape away the remaining topsoil (brown) down to the natural soil exposure (orange). The colouration is quite distinct as is the hardness of the individual soils. It takes a keen eye and patience to identify important artefacts which would generally be very small although so far today none have been discovered. We knocked off at 4:30 and for the first day good progress had been made.
We stopped off at the Co-op store where I picked up some food supplies including a sandwich and cheese for tomorrow's lunch. I stored my stash at the Holiday Cottages. I had a light lunch of cheese and plums and an apple. I had decided to eat in the guest lounge which was like a private club for me. Unfortunately I hadn't taken my key with me so was locked out of the room until I was able to raise the landlady to let me back in.
Then we headed for the Senhouse Museum for 7:30 where we listened to an Archaeology Botanist speak on the topic of the work he does to discover any micro evidence of land use and food consumption by means of a sieving process. It was pretty interesting but after the day in the field I confess to falling asleep several times during the presentation but managed to do so quite unobtrusively so nobody admitted to seeing me awaken sharply.
We went back to the Hip Hotl for a beer. The botanist's name was Don Omeara from Cork in Ireland so I sent a message to my cousin Lori to tell her I was sitting in a pub with an Irish Omeara and would Roy have had any relatives from that area. She wrote back and was pleased to hear from me but couldn't pinpoint Don. I stood a pint for 6 people and then was off to bed at 10.