Okay, so not the most inspiring of titles, but the ‘rubbish disposal’ element is both the tip of the iceberg and fascinating too in this writeup of the site excavations undertaken in North Yorkshire, near Malton, a few years ago.
The tome painstakingly walks through the two season or digs at the site, detailing everything you could hope to see.
We have extensive illustration and site plans of the trenches dug, the strata’s dug through and all referenced so the reader can see the evolution of the dig and activity taking place.
There are also Geophysical survey results that helped the siting of the trenches, and yes they do look just like they did on Time Team. And then we have a wide range of B&W and colour photographs that show some of the trenches and the finds as they are slowly exposed by the archaeologists, I particularly liked the revealing of the bustum vessels on pg 34.
As a detectorist I think we can sometimes be a little blasé about our hobby, digging holes and finding interesting remains. But it’s when you see a book like this that you realise just how thorough and methodical the Archaeologists are and the amazing attention to detail they pay to every aspect of a site.
So when they talk about preserving the context of a site you can see from a publication like this exactly what it is they are talking about.
And then we move onto the finds, and my god there’s so many!
The book categorizes the find into a number of extensive sections, starting with Prehistoric Pottery. Each of these chapters details what was found where, how many of each type and all are accompanied by illustrations and photographs.
The next chapter is Coins, and probably the most obviously interesting to detectorists. They found 83 Roman coins in total, though unfortunately this section is not as extensively illustrated and photographed as I would have liked, then again it’s not a detecting book and I get the impression that the Archaeologists are a lot less impressed with coins that we’d be.
The other criticism I have to this section is that there is an Appendix that details the coin finds, but it is in such a small font, and in tabular format with black type on a grey background, that it is very difficult to read.
The next chapter is ‘Small finds and vessel glass’ and here we are back to extensively illustrated and thorough approach with a massive array of finds detailed.
One of then key finds of the excavation was a cremation burial (known as a bustum burial), and this takes up the next Chapter covering the finds associated with this particular part of the dig.
We then move through a couple of chapters on building materials before the fascinating, to me anyway, sections on Lithics, Querns, Millstones and such. The finally sections on Bones and Shells.
The tome finishes with a discussion on the site, the finds and the history of the area and how the digs has advanced our knowledge of the area.
As you’d expect from an academic piece of this nature it also has an extensive Bibliography and is referenced throughout.
Overall it is a thorough and absorbing analysis of a fascinating site.
Tony Cawood – TC Detect’s YouTube
Life, Death and Rubbish Disposal in Roman Norton, North Yorkshire Excavations at Brooklyn House 2015-16
By Janet Phillips and Pete Wilson