Memories of Whitehall

Send me any memories you want to share and I'll post them here.

Rick Whyte, 7th July 2012

As always, a lifeline to those of us who unfortunately can't make it up to the full 4 weeks of the dig, the blog keeps us updated and provides a good insight into what everyone else is doing. Well, perhaps excepting Fred.

I started on this project ten years ago, not having any experience, but always having a love for archaeology. I remember getting shouted at by Steve for brushing back a surface which should have been trowelled back. (We had to do it again). I remember trowelling between the bunter pebbles of the courtyard, tedious to say the least, but finding part of a shale bracelet, only to find another part of it the next year on the same surface. Finding a complete window pane, if a little broken. Most of all I remember standing at the top of the site when we had stormy showers with shovel in hand with Steve and Context Dave during one stormy summer. A very black, tall storm cloud seemed to be approaching and we weren't sure if it was coming our way. I chucked some grass into the air and it blew the other way, away from us. The clouds kept coming towad the site and it was at tis point we realised I was the updraught sucking up the air from below. We decided evacuation was the better part of valour.

It's not my full time work (which pays the bills), but my time at Whitehall has led me to pursue an interest in Samian, getting involved with the major players in the field and developing an interest into a speciality. I've got to thank Steve for that for having an element of trust in me.
I've met some good friends at Whitehall, we may only meet for a couple of weeks year, but it doesn't matter...

And thanks to Nick.

I'm going to have a beer now
End of an era...

Malcolm Caine, 24th July 2012

2000: A view of the praefurnium and hypocaust of room 2 of BH1. Excavated by John Ward and team:

2001: Fred excavating what became room 3a of BH1:

2002: Over at the Ancilliary Building, evidence of butchery emerges in the form of deer antlers:

2003: The excavation of room 3b of BH1 continues:

2004: The Saxon cemetery is discovered and excavated:

2004a: Alice and the Lower Slope, before it became BH2 (or BH1 cont'd?):

2005: Time Team arrive and take an interest in Round House 2:

2005a: The official photographer hard at work:

2008: Looking west. BH2 begining to emerge:

2009: Down among the pilae, of BH2:

2010: After many hints that it might be there, the tessellated pavement is found:

2011: The site director takes an aeriel view of BH2:

2012: Another drain (or is it a supply pipe?) emerges from under the floor of room 7 of BH:

Finally, I have many happy memories of my days at Whitehall Farm, of the finds found, of the friends made, some who have continued to the
end, some who have not, some who have passed on. My thanks to them all.

I really do hope this is not the end, but in case it is, to you all, Valete!


Tony Kesten, 20th September 2014 July 2012

It was 'Time Team' that brought me first to Whitehall. One day in early 2005 in an unoccupied moment at work in my civil service office in London's Whitehall I went to the "Time Team' website. The Big Roman Dig was announced as that year's main event. I had already done some digging, at Vindolanda up by Hadrian's Wall so was happy to enter my postcode to look for the closest participating dig. The answer was St Albans. At the time I didn't have air-conditioning in my car and wasn't thrilled at the idea of driving up and down the M1 especially with the likelihood of having to travel back in the rush-hour in mucky clothes. The site allowed me to search for the next closest dig. As soon as I saw the name 'Whitehall Roman Villa' I was sold. It was just one mile further in the other direction from my home in 'Sunny Milton Keynes' and I knew I would get enormous, and repeated, fun out of telling my colleagues I 'wouldn't be in next week because I'd be digging at the Whitehall Roman Villa' with the inevitable looking round and asking whereabout this Villa might be.😋 And I did!

When Time Team were there I was one of those who looked eagerly at our Supervisor, Barbara Evans-Rees, when Neil Holbrook of TT told her that if she lined us up in one spot we'd all be in the background of a sequence, to implore her to accept. To our relief she did!

After that year I ceased digging. The following year an email came round before the dig asking if anyone would like to join a new context team that was going to be formed and spend perhaps two weeks doing that rather than digging. I knew digging was going to happen in two separate places and felt that the only way to see what happened in both might be to spend a week or two in this new team. I was also interested to understand what this context stuff was about. As a result I found myself building a friendship that still lasts with Dave Hayward and others at Whitehall and never went back to digging. Given the state of my right knee which I was recently told would need replacing one day which day needed to be postponed as long as possible as it could only be done once, this is possibly a good thing. I say 'possibly' because I was told the same thing thirty-odd years ago and still have that knee!

Thanks to Dave, Steve, Colin, Beryl, Sandy, Barbara and many others I learned a lot about archaeology.

I continue to believe that there is a major undiscovered aspect to Whitehall that links the larger bath-house and its separate entrance, the vast store of hare bones and the piece of Wolf's jawbone- one of just three such pieces found in Roman Britain. The other two are at Piddington, where I go and dig, yes really dig, and at the Fishbourne hunting palace. I think Whitehall's earlier incarnation was as some kind of hunting facility with hares bred especially. But I guess we may never know!"

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