Wednesday 23 February 2011

Interim Report: Trench 1

We are making good progress with compiling the interim report from our 2010 excavation series. We should have this completed by Easter. In the mean time here is the site description of Trench 1 and the associated plan

Trench 1
This was c. 37m by 26m and located in the north‐east corner of the fort. The excavation was begun in 2009, and continued in 2010, when a 15m by 5m hand‐dug extension was added to the south‐western corner.

Along the south‐eastern edge of the excavation, the interior of the earlier fort rampart was exposed [1]. A stone and clay oven was partially excavated, which had been constructed into the rampart [2]. Built over this oven and against the early rampart was a second rampart, running along the northern edge of the excavation trench, and forming the northern edge of the later fort [3]. This incorporated a wider corner area [4], within which a corner tower had been constructed [5]. Of similar construction to the later rampart, and perhaps constructed at the same time, a large raised area was built against the early rampart in the south‐eastern corner of the trench, sloping down towards the centre of the fort [6]. Stone walling on both ramparts may have supported angle towers [7, 8].

A long narrow rectangular building ran parallel with the south‐east rampart, set back c. 14m from the rampart edge, and c. 6m from the north‐east rampart. The building, as exposed, is c. 30m long, and c.6m wide internally. The stone walls [c. 0.6m wide] are generally faced on both sides, with a narrow rubble core, although there are variations in construction which may indicate different phases of building, and their association with exterior stone surfaces. Up to three courses of wall were visible in places, including wider foundation courses: at the southern end of the western wall in particular, larger stone blocks set in clay may indicate an earlier building on the same alignment, reused as a foundation for the later building. The wall foundation appears to have been extended further south in this area through the construction of a bank of clay and stone [9].

Possible post holes were identified within the upper surfaces on the walls which may be indicative of a timber superstructure. Elements of internal stone walls were present within the structure. Across the centre of the building was a surface of large paving stones [10], into which a deep stone and clay‐lined pit had been incorporated [11]: a cattle skull had been placed in the base of this pit. A hollow way [12] led towards this from a probable entrance in the north wall of the building. This cut through a clay floor, over which elements of paving and gravel surfaces survived. A drain, lined with stone roof tiles, had been constructed across this floor [13].

To the south of the paved surface was a sunken area [14], up to 0.5m deep, demarcated by the walls of the building, internal paving, and an internal wall. Further paving was present in discrete areas within the building to the south of here. Elements of clay floor also survived within this area.

Built against the eastern wall of the building were stone and cobbled surfaces (15), stretching towards the eastern rampart. These surfaces appeared contiguous with the upper surface of the wall, but did not extend within the building. They extended over the raised area in the south‐eastern corner of the trench, and around the southern end of the building, demarcating the extent of the building in this direction in this phase of use. Elements of stone surfaces were recorded to the north of the building, but the surface was not contiguous in this area. The surfaces spread over and incorporated the remains
of a second rectangular stone building (16) positioned over the raised area, which was off‐alignment with the fort ramparts.

Incorporated within the surfaces were two linear gullies [17], which may be associated with crudely constructed low stone banks [18]. Stone banks were also present along the top of the northern rampart and along the edge of the south‐eastern raised area (partially remove in 2009). Stone‐lined pits were present within the surfaces; two of the larger of these are marked on the plan [19]. These are partially lined with flat stone slabs. Further similar features may be present at the eastern edge of the cobbled area.

The cobbled surfaces were not identified on the western side of the building. Here, a clay and stone path led up over the wall of the building [20]. Elements of two stone‐lined pits with associated stone spreads and low banks were recorded in this area [21]. Large quantities of cattle bone were recovered from this area of the site in particular.

An antiquarian trench was identified through the angle tower [22]; some of the facing stones for the walls had been removed. Deposits identified across the trench that related to post‐medieval landscaping activity and ploughing were excavated in 2009.

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