My involvement with Catcote began in 1987 when I took a Manpower Services team
of local people to the site. We excavated lots of ditches, played cricket and had the
lower legs of my jeans cut off on a sunny day. I also saw Huntcliff ware in the raw for
the first time.
In 1995 I was looking for an excavation project for Tees Archaeology and persuaded
Durham University to send their students to Catcote. We were keen to do an
excavation, Durham University were keen to cut the costs of their students' fieldwork!
The project rolled on until 2003 when I started to get directly involved. In 2003 the
site was run by Phil Abramson and myself with Jan Adams helping.
Phil and Jan opened the site with a machine and were amazed to see stones
everywhere and horrified when Huntcliff and Crambeck Ware began to appear. We
had hit a clear 4th century horizon for the first time.
We gradually removed more and more of the rubble and then one day somebody
lifted a stone and found a roll of coins. Suddenly there were coins everywhere. This
does not happen on sites in this area and we quickly checked the spoilheap to
discover at least ten coins we had thrown away. It was wonderful to see how much
more motivated everybody was when there were Roman coins to be found rather
than Iron Age pottery.
As if this wasn't enough we then discovered the remains of an infant burial and
because of local disturbance of the site I decided we could not leave it overnight. We
therefore excavated the remains before receiving the Home Office licence.
The following day while showing a school party around the site I had the pleasure of
a phone call from the Home Office informing me that I was in formal breach of the
law. Not a moment to forget and somehow typical of Catcote.