Last week Ellen and I dashed around the county with the differential GPS (essentially a high-accuracy sat-nav capable of surveying to within millimetres providing one has a phone signal and no trees!) putting in base points for the sites we hope to work on later in the year. Thanks to Clare Lewis and Mark Landon for their help. As a result, we were able to start “the big one” — the Roman city of Verulamium at St Albans — this week. Our first day was yesterday (27/6/2013).
The day got off to a slow and slightly chaotic start which was all my fault. I set up the total station over one of our base points near the hypocaust in Verulamium Park. When I was ready to lay in the grid, it really didn’t look as though the total station was pointing in the right direction. I checked and double checked and peered at my map but it still didn’t seem right. After some discussion we decided that it wasn’t the map or the total station which was wrong, but my ‘mental map’! Having finally been convinced all was well, I laid in the grid and we got going.
Despite the late start, and a slightly early end due to immanent rain, we did manage to survey an area 200m by 40m. Annoyingly, a couple of the sensors froze in the second grid but we didn’t notice at the time. We’ll have to do that one again.
I have overlain the plot of the first day on the Google Earth image of the Park. The slight angle is because our grid is laid out on the OS grid, and Google Earth uses lat and long. The building on the east end of the plot is the “hypocausted building”.
The big feature running across the plot is the “1955 ditch”, the first century defences of the town probably marking the boundary of the Flavian municipium. It is called the “1955 ditch” after the excavation across it in 1955 by Shepherd Frere. Some of the smaller ditches are possibly medieval field boundaries. The large circular features would appear to be large pits, or perhaps wells? The latter are uncommon at Verulamium, but not unknown. There are other things going on too.
Obviously, the detailed interpretation of the results will require quite a bit of work and consultation, so don’t quote me on any of this!