stems had been twisted behind these to hold the sides in position. Two pits (XCIV and XCVI) were lined with barrels. In the first of these a barrel six feet six inches high had been inserted, while below it lay a half barrel three feet three inches high. In Pit XCVI the order was reversed, the half barrel lay uppermost. In most of the deeper pits there were noted, below the black deposit, which constituted the filling in almost every instance, two to three feet of wet yellow sludge, suggesting that the hole had stood open for some time before anything was thrown in, for the clay seemed to have been washed down from the sides through the percolation of water. All the pits when cleared out held water. At the bottom of more than one was a bucket, confirming the idea that many of them had been wells.

Characteristics of the Deposit in the Pits

Whatever may have been their original purpose, the pits and wells were finally utilised for the deposit of rubbish. From all of them, but more especially from those of considerable depth, there came a great mass of black earthy matter, having a curious well-marked smell.

Figure 10
The same dark-coloured deposit was present at the bottom of the deeper ditches, especially those of the early fort on the west front. Vegetable fibres and animal bones entered largely into its composition. Branches, often with the bark undamaged, stems of heather, leaves of trees, fronds of bracken, reeds, and water plants were plainly recognisable. Bones of animals were almost invariably present, blue vivianite crystals gathering on them when they were exposed to the air. The soft damp mass, from which all air was excluded, had had a remarkable preservative power. Terra Sigillata preserved its brilliant glaze and brass its golden yellow, while iron tools and weapons, covered with a black oxide, seemed little the worse for their long immersion. Pieces of cloth, rope, and leather were recovered almost undamaged. Some fragments of fine basketwork were found in Pit XXVIII (Fig. 10), while an object which appears to be an unfinished basket woven from the hair moss (Plate XV.) was found at the bottom of the ditch of the early fort, the delicate strands of the moss having lost little of their elasticity.