• David Quick

Day 2 of the Stroud Big Dig 2017

Today was a day of mixed fortunes really. There were only 7 of us on site and I was really grateful to those who turned up, two of whom helped despite recent injuries or operations.

We started off by continuing the geophysics scans - magnetometry and resistivity - of the villa field, continuing to move east from the known location of the villa. I don't have the magnetometry results from Carl yet but he has just sent me the raw (unfiltered) resistivity plot for the whole of the field scanned so far:

On the left is the darker area of the bath house and towards the top-centre of the plot you can clearly see the external and internal walls of the aisled barn excavated in 1906.

On the far right of the plot you can see a dark line heading north-south which we now know to be a modern drainage pipe from the end of Finchmead Lane. But there are some other linear features towards the bottom-right that I do not yet understand and I look forward to seeing the plot when Carl is able to clean it up a bit. I am a bit disappointed that on the extended plot on the far left I cannot see, as I had hoped, a route where the water came into the bath house.

While the rest of the team were doing the geophys I headed across with Barry to Stroudbridge Farm where I met the owner, Anthony. He could not have been more helpful. We explained our interest in his house, which dates from the 1500s, in the lumps and bumps in his gardens and paddock, and in the fact that what is now part of his lawn was named Mill Platt on the tithe maps.

Anthony shows us an aerial photo of how the property looked in 1964, before most of the present-day gardens, hedgerows, paddocks and fences existed:

It astonished me how much can change in just 50 years, and I was intrigued by the rectilinear features on the bottom-right of the image - worth investigating! I also learnt that in fact he has two streams through his property that converge towards the top-right of this photo. I am keen to learn whether there was a mill on the site here and have been given permission to do a drone height survey next week before we come back to do geophys and test pits here.

We continued to have equipment problems today with the resistivity machine. This photo shows how the logging unit is presently held on with cable ties because of the broken welds on the bracket which we hope to get fixed next week:

At noon I then met with Ron Allen, whose garden adjoins the villa site. He very kindly showed me where we can do metal detecting and geophys in his garden. We are limited to a fairly narrow strip around two sides, because his garden like Sal's is on the edge of the old sand pit where the Roman lead coffin was found in the 1890s. There is no point digging in the bottom of the sandpit but Barry got some off-the-scale readings on his metal detector when we started exploring, which we hope to investigate further tomorrow.

The afternoon was pleasantly cool and we had light drizzle at times, which was quite welcome when you are working hard with the geophys. Unfortunately we had to pack up early at about 3.30pm because we had exhausted all the batteries of the resistivity machine; for some reason the new batteries Carl had bought last night had not charged.

Tomorrow we hope to finish the last few grid squares of the villa field, probably Ron's garden and then move on to another area.

Carl's raw magnetometry results have just pinged into my inbox, so here is the latest plot:

I know that one of the big circular black blobs was the power line pole but am not sure about the other and will ask Carl tomorrow.

Finally here are a few images of the team hard at work:

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