Day 2

Today started off good, we were bussed down to the excavation site after breakfast. Upon arrival we were given a tour of the dig site starting with the commander’s quarters and the best preserved bathhouse in the UK. During the tour we were told that the fort at Binchester would have been located along the river Wear (in order to secure the river crossing) but the river has migrated recently. The fort was also a strategic point between the northern border at Hadrian’s wall and the Roman commander of northern forces at the city of York (you don’t want your commanding officer near the frontlines).

We were then guided to the two dig sites they had: the first was the barracks and the second was a civilian settlement. Within the barracks site we learned that there were several circular ovens that had been excavated (they would have been used to bake bread for the soldiers), there was a well preserved latrine (the Romans actually created an efficient way to draw water into the latrine in order to help flush it out, they out was only flushed into the ditch just outside the wall), the barracks were used to house both troops and horses, an odd, unidentifiable building was on the site, and there was a wooden barracks added later that had post holes.

In the settlement site, we learned that there was a second bathhouse that had been revealed, a Roman road was under excavation, and there were unique post holes on the site. I worked on this site, and I talked to the site manager for a bit, so I know a little more about it. First off, I learned that Roman roads actually had several layers- when I road needed large repair, the Romans would simply build a new road on top of the old. So, multiple layers of the road had been uncovered. Secondly, some unique post holes were on the site because they were actually holes in the ground; it looked as if the Romans had put posts in the ground, then cut the top part of the posts off, and built a road over the posts that were left in the ground. Then, as the posts disintegrated, they left holes in the ground because the road prevented them from being filled in. As for the bathhouse, we learned that it had undergone many changes. It first started off as a larger bathhouse with a patio, one main room, and two windows but when a few additions were added to, the old door was sealed off, a window was turned into a door, a new patio was built (the area I worked in), and the main room was divided into a dressing room and the main bath. There was also a second, smaller, possibly private bath that was being worked on. Oh, and the reason there isn’t much of the fort left it’s because whenever someone needed building rocks, they stole them from the fort (a church a ways away, Escomb, is made entirely from the stones).

As for the area I worked in, I was tasked with removing the patio’s rock floor, and seeing what was beneath it (a tragedy in my opinion because it was a nice floor…) but upon excavating, we discovered many bones, a lead circular object of sorts, a piece of pottery (my first significant find) a nail/piece of iron, a bpm, …. (by we, I mean my digging partner Ash found a bunch of stuff while i just found the pottery piece…). But, after lunch and tea time (tea time is at 11:00, lunch 1:30) I was moved to another spot where I found several pieces of copper. Oh, and the reason why the bath is so well preserved is because people tossed their rubbish in the bath once it was no longer in use, which helped prevent the walls from falling in. But I had to leave the site early to meet Valerie, our Fulbright contract.
During our meeting we discussed what the Fulbright program is, what our goals are, and then we played a British trivia game (my group mates, Anna and Hannah knew a ton of British information). Afterwards we ate dinner, then went to the bar in the college (there are three of them in the college, that’s right, in the college…) where they were serving free drinks (so I dried a beer, ale, coke and rum, vodka, whisky, peach schnapps, Malibu and coke, and some other drink (despite how it sounds, I only drank a very small amount of each). Then we played uno as a group before heading off to bed.

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