Thursday, June 27, 2013

Archaeological burrowing

Epiacum Roman Fort near Alston, Cumbria, was occupied by Roman army units 1,200 years ago and held a defensive position about 15 mi (24 km) south of Hadrian's Wall. Also known as Whitley Castle, it is one of roughly 20,000 historically important monuments in England protected against unauthorized change by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979. Formally excavated in about 1810 and 1957, the work is now done – with permission of English Heritage – by moles! "I realise it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it's actually quite serious," says archaeologist Paul Frodsham, who organizes volunteers to sift through the earth disturbed by the molehills. With the help of the animals, they have found a number of artifacts:
  • Fragments of brown table pottery called Terra sigillata or "Samian ware" thought to belong to either a stand for a vase or bowl or an egg cup
  • Pieces from the rims of serving bowls and earthenware pots
  • A bead made of jet from a bracelet or necklace
  • Iron nails
  • A bronze tap head from the wash-house in the shape of a dolphin
Says Elaine Edgar, who owns the farmland with her husband, “ is only with the help of the moles that we have been able to find these remains. Perhaps we should get them some Roman helmets – then they would be real mighty moles.

No comments:

Post a Comment

You may add your comments here.