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Boxford Big Dig 2015 (page 1 of 6)

Roman Boxford Dig – Day 6

What a difference a day makes! Thunder, lightning and an absolute deluge made everyone dive for cover in the marquee…………..well almost!

Richard in his wet weather gear trying to start a new fashion! After all what was plastic invented for?

Harry won an archaeology competition set by BARG and earned a day on site; so in between showers, he had a go at everything – digging, pot washing, metal detecting and finding stuff. He was particularly interested in the tile with a paw print. (Must have been a lot of dogs on the loose in Roman times as we have found quite a few with paw prints.)  He…… and his dad lasted all day despite the weather. At the end Matt presented him with his certificate.


Jim also found a lot of cbm in trench 4 – one piece especially stood out – an imbrex with an unusual signature of the maker – it looks a little like a fish or an eye!

Photos courtesy of Lindsey and Joy


Roman Boxford Dig – Day 5

Some stunning photos of the site from Richard’s drone…………….the three trenches (top right) are across the main villa. The biggest of the cluster of excavations (bottom left) is the secondary building/villa.

Panorama to the north – last year’s dig at Wyfield is just before the M4

Jim – in a hole again – this time in trench 4 the smaller building. He always finds something special!

Continuing work in trench 3 – the main villa

What is this? Tom and Agata are puzzled.

Looks like a large bone with a curved surface….will cover it up for tonight and get Matt to look at it in the morning!

Gary and Jack (not in the picture) have dug this trench 9 and made it immaculate. It is now finished and Matt is showing Gary how to accurately plot the cut using Cotswold’s GPS system.

Roman Boxford Dig – Day 4

Daily briefing from Matt – Trench 3 beautifully excavated by Agata and Roger. It shows the pad which would have supported one of two of the gate posts immediately opposite the main villa and the wall connecting it to the smaller building.

Unusual under leg technique by Tom!

Freya and Geordie cleaning back trench in 2

Mum Katharine exploring the archaeology with youngest son Jasper – our youngest volunteer yet!

With Joel and Emmeline not far behind

Jill one of the team of six pot washers today  – needed to keep up with the number of finds coming off the site!

And one of Jill’s items after a wash…………a dog paw print in a tile……….pads and claw marks clearly visible…….must have been a large dog though!

Much needed lunch break

Excitement in trench 3 in the main villa as Alice uncovers more tesserae.

Maybe we can now call it a mosaic floor as opposed to a tessellated floor as there is more than one colour!

Photos courtesy of Lindsey and Jill.

Roman Boxford – Andy’s First Day on an Archaeological Site

As he said the photos give a flavour of the day overall for someone new to archaeology. Photos taken last Saturday.

9am – site office

The workforce to designated areas with buckets and tools.

Said bucket with kneeler – most important!

This is how to do it……………….

Andy’s bit of the trench.

Some of his finds


They look better after washing and are more recognisable.

Down buckets for lunch – 1pm

Bramble the Labrador, living in hope!

It’s a dog’s life!

Alice and the pot washing team having a break for lunch

Looks like a brick floor tile……………. but it may turn out to to be something else!

A delighted Matt with a part of the tessellated floor in the main villa.

Photos courtesy of Andy, Westbrook


Roman Boxford – Big Dig – Days 1 and 2

It’s been a busy and productive couple of days. Janet and Pru busy were washing finds on day 1- a messy but essential job. David fetched finds from the field and was a master water carrier for the pot washers! On day 2 Janet, Jenny, Joy, Gill  and John did the honours.

Pot washing is not just for the fairer sex – here John is making a good fist of it with the rubber gloves provided!

And Gill is taking the worst of the mud off the cbm before washing.

Saturday – and volunteers start clearing the loose from trench 4 – the smaller of the two buildings – all of which has been opened up by the digger.

And one of our resident metal detectorists, John, checks the spoil heap for metal finds.

But in trench 4 itself, this little gem is found. It is a child’s bracelet made of copper alloy. It is undamaged – quite remarkable in the circumstances.

Tina in trench 4 is uncovering the external wall. One piece of window glass has been found in this trench so far.

Steve and Abigail also in trench 4 working along the wall line opposite Tina.

JCB driver Scuddie – relieved to have finished on site!! He made a difficult job look easy. Matt acting as the banksman from Cotswold Archaeology looks on before  heading off to supervise work in the trenches.

Pam finding  paving in trench 1 in the main villa building.

One of our younger volunteers and one of the keenest – John in trench 1 – he has been on site for 3 days so far

Jim, Philippa, Gary and Steve totally engrossed in trench 1. Four pieces of window glass were found in this trench ………….

……………….And one nice piece of decorated glass.

Remember that child’s bracelet – this is what it looked like the cleaned up by Lindsey.

But the biggest surprise so far was finding a tessellated floor in trench 3 of the main villa.

You see before you a happy man! Matt was really thrilled to see this and everyone stopped work to take a look. It is rare to find an undamaged section like this and we hope that more will have survived. Although we found individual tesserae on the Hoar Hill site, we never found an undamaged section like this.

Photos courtesy of Lindsey, Steve and Joy.

Roman Boxford Big Dig Day -1

Last day before volunteer diggers arrive.  A ducky day was had by all – as 15 ducks came to view the site and tuck into any spare lunch!!

The serious picture below shows the walls of the smaller of the two buildings being uncovered by the digger.  Joy

Photos courtesy of Lindsey.

Roman Boxford 2017 D-2

What a difference a day makes!! Thankfully the weather was great today and the site has dried out well. We have been able to catch up on the planned geophysical work before the JCB work tomorrow. So resitivity and magnetometry has been finished on the main villa and second smaller building. Trenches are marked out for the JCB on the buildings too. Everyone has had a chance to try out the different pieces of equipment and got excellent results. So providing the weather is as forecast tomorrow, we shall be able to start digging the buildings on Saturday and processing finds. It’s been lovely working on the site today in the sunshine – it is a beautiful site with spectacular distant views set at the top of a lovely valley. You can see why the Romans picked the spot!

Roman Boxford Dig – Day3

Mud Hole truly lived up to its name today!! But the forecast is better for tomorrow!!


Steve and Mike – two of the brave heart team slogging their way through the smaller of the two buildings under investigation with the resitivity meter

The Sartorial Elegance of our Lindsey!

We will start digging on Saturday so if you plan to come – great ……but just drop an email to Joy Look forward to seeing you.

Roman Boxford Big Dig 2017 – Day Minus 4

Day -4. Work has started preparing the field for the upcoming excavation. The marquee has been erected, loos installed and once the total station arrived we were able to start putting the poles in place which form the grid within which the trenches are located. Despite heavy downpours of rain we even got the geophys started with the first few squares of magnetometry but the field name of Mud Hole well and truly lived up to its name! Despite the weather we were very pleased with the progress we made but fear tomorrow might be a bit less productive due to even worse conditions being forecast. It looks a bit better from Thursday so fingers crossed.



Roman Boxford Dig 2017

The last of our three Heritage Lottery funded digs will take place this summer, starting on Saturday 12th August in the parish of Boxford about half a mile from the village centre; it will be in a field off the Winterbourne Road. We will be working for 2 weeks and volunteers may come and go as convenient for them. However, it is useful for us to know which days volunteers are coming. So please let me know which days you plan to come. Please note Mondays of both weeks will be REST DAYS!

We start with a daily briefing by a professional archaeologist Matt Nichol from Cotswold Archaeology at around 9am; have breaks mid morning and afternoon, stop for lunch and finish around 5pm. Volunteers are covered by insurance – not that we have ever had to claim. There are portable loos on site and a large marquee to provide cover.

We will be excavating a known Roman villa site and another Roman building, which we found by doing a geophysical survey a couple of years ago. It could be another villa or a large agricultural building but since it has not been disturbed we hope to have some decent finds. An excavator does most of the heavy digging and then volunteers move in afterwards.

We also process and document finds and we use volunteers for this too – so there are different opportunities for volunteers. All tools are provided, and professionals will be on site at all times to provide guidance and help. If you would like to volunteer – the only things that you need to provide are gardening gloves to protect your hands, sensible footwear, old      clothing depending on rain or sun,         suncream, a hat/waterproofs, your         lunch and plenty to drink. If you have a garden kneeler you might like to bring that to protect your knees!

We have a good mix of volunteers and hope that some of our 6th formers and Uni students will return again – they seem to have enjoyed their past experiences and for those applying to universities, joining in this kind of project does look good on a Uni application, even if they don’t plan on studying archaeology.

For “old hands” please come with buckets, trowels, hand shovels and wheelbarrows if you have them. We will be putting up the marquee on Monday 7th August – if anyone is available to help with this, will you please give me a call or email, so we can finalise the time.

We especially hope locals will make the most of this last great opportunity to discover more about the place in which they live – particularly as they may not only discover Roman remains in their own gardens but understand and appreciate what they find!


Many thanks and look forward to meeting you.

Joy Appleton

Boxford History Project                 01488608422

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