Day 2 – The wall reveals more secrets

It’s been a good day at Epiacum as more sections of the wall are dismantled and we uncover more and more surprising detail. This will be a two part post as a lot of the wall came down today and we turned up a lot of archaeology as well. The weather was much better which made progress much easier and I don’t have a fireplace full of soaking boots tonight.

As ever the amazing camp staff were up before everyone… preparing, planning, sorting breakfast etc. etc.

It’s a bit early and damp…

Dale and Sam the camp dog

But Sam the camp dog (my pooch) is raring to go… I think he has just spotted some sheep… whilst Dale (the mastermind behind much of the operational elements of Operation Jericho, the volunteers and much else) plans the day.

I said there was one find from yesterday I hadn’t covered…

It was this…

Late roman glass found in the wall! Some how this chunk of Roman Glass became part of the wall in or after 1843. Which is strange… but beautiful..


Roman glass

The strange thing about this is that the walls construction is not what was expected. Often the infill (the bit in the middle of a wall) is rubble scrapped up from the area around the wall. In that case the glass would make sense. But… this wall is different. The infill is all stone…

Stone infill

Stone infill

So we suspect a handful of smaller stones must have been scooped up, including this solitary piece of glass, when the wall was built by the victorians about 1,700 years after the fort and glass, was left.


And on to today…

The biggest problem we faced from the start was how to remove the tons and tons of stone from the site without damaging the site. Epiacum is one of the few untouched roman forts around. It is a protected site and one of the trusts primary goals is to preserve and protect the site.

This was the answer….


A tracked dumper truck…

The tracks spread the weight…

of the tons of stones so that only the surface soil is touched and there is hardly any disturbance no matter what the weight of the stone is.

More of the wall fell as we opened up two areas of the wall to dismantling.

We were helped by two ninjas… in section 1

whilst the main team worked from the corner towards them…

Nice view from the office eh? This valley is very special.

The idea is to take the wall down to ground level but leave a small raised area visible as the wall is part of the history of the fort now.


As we got to ground level.

The press turned up…

Reporter interviewing Al Oswald, one of the two primary archaeologists working on Operation Jericho.

Al is from the Archaeology Department at the University of York and brought three undergraduate archaeology students with him.

The other archaeologist, Stewart Ainsworth (of Time Team fame) is Professor of Landscape Archaeology at the University of Chester

Both universities have been of immeasurable help with Operational Jericho. Without their help, expertise and generosity this whole project would not have happened.

Todays finds

In this post I will just cover a couple of finds from today. I will detail more in my next post.

So today we found this

stone plug. At the moment there is a discussion about whether it is natural, part of the Roman archaeology, medieval or later…

Then we turned up an interesting part of a roof tile

you can see the square nail hole in the tile…


This is quite likely Roman as can be seen from this example from a museum in Italy…

You can see the square Roman nail in the museum example. In our find from the wall, the hole is square.

Someone, about 2,000 years ago, split a rock to make this tile and shaped this hole to fit the roman nails of the time and it would have been part of a buildings roof within the fort for a few hundred years … and then it turned up in our wall in 2018.

And finally tonight this corner of something…

possibly a trough.

And all this hidden in one dry stone wall!

We also had some other amazing finds… more of which in my next post.

Oh and some locals visited to see what we were up to…

Sam made sure they didn’t get too close

More, much much more in the morning

It’s been a busy day.

Goodnight from Epiacum as we see what new secrets will be revealed tomorrow

DW and Sam

In this series:


Overview of the project:

Many individuals and organisations are involved with the management of Epiacum. We would particularly like to thank the following: Heritage Lottery Fund, North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership, Historic England, and Natural England