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  • David Quick

Spring is here - time for the Colemore Spring Dig


It is that time of year that so many of our members look forward to - the start of the month-long dig at the Romano-British villa site near Colemore in Hampshire, that we have been investigating since 2009.

Over the winter and last Sunday a small team of us extended the areas scanned using magnetometry and high-resolution resistivity geophysics scanning, because previously we had only scanned about a third of the field.

Juliet, our Archaeology Director and site supervisor, usually chooses to investigate the building itself during the autumn dig and then the surrounding area - boundary ditch and interesting features on the geophysics plots - during the spring dig. This time is no exception; Juliet has chosen three trench locations further north in our field than usual, selected either because of intriguing blobs on the geophysics scans or because they intersect the known 'ladder enclosure'.

Yesterday we started off by splitting into two groups. Some of us went first to our equipment store in West Liss to collect one of our marquees and some necessary equipment before proceeding to Colemore. The rest of the group started at 09.00 at Colemore in laying out our grid across the field, from which we measure all our features.


This was helped by our having used Carl's Total Station on Sunday to lay out with centimetre accuracy the baseline (which heads due north from a datum point), marked out with plastic canes every 30 metres. The team yesterday then extended the grid east and west of this baseline, and from the cane markers then measured out and marked the outline of where the trenches were to go.

While all this was going on the rest of us put up the min-marquee we use as a store and display tent, to give us somewhere dry to keep the equipment we had brought over. Earlier in the day Juliet had collected David Bale from Gosport, and David is camping on-site for the duration of the dig. We also had two new members arrive to assist, both archaeologists, namely Kim and Megan (who is over from the USA). Meanwhile Kayleigh was showing off all the new gear she had been given for Christmas, all bright pink!

Yesterday was very hot, apparently touching 27 degrees. Fortunately today was a little cooler but not much - quite uncomfortable for hard physical labour. Again a small group of us went directly to the store to collect all the remaining tentage, tools, equipment, tables, generator and so on. We loaded all of this into Mark's van and our cars, which took about an hour. Meanwhile everyone else went staright to Colemore. Juliet supervised the operation of the mini-digger to ensure it only took off the turf and a few inches of topsoil without damaging any archaeology.

Once the equipment arrived on site it became the usual hive of activity. We set up the big marquee, got the hot-water urn going for a brew, put up the Finds Tent, sorted out the tools, set up the display area with out choice finds and got all the paperwork ready for start of the dig proper tomorrow, Saturday.


Once the mini-digger had finished each trench a team of us then cut and stacked the turf from the trench and erected the usual protective fencing around each.

By about 4.30 we were all feeling very tired, mainly because of the heat, but had completed all the essential tasks. We now have Trenches V, W and X and a smaller excavation too; I'm not sure yet whether Juliet is going to label it as a trench or a test pit. Carl is also now camping on site, having managed to get three weeks off work.


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