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Wessex Archaeology

New Discoveries on a Detached Roman Bath-house and Two


Earlier Buildings at Truckle Hill, North Wraxall, Wiltshire

Interim Report on the 2009 Archaeological Excavation


and Outreach Programme

Ref: 58523.01 February 2010


NEW DISCOVERIES ON A DETACHED ROMAN BATH-HOUSE
AND TWO EARLIER BUILDINGS AT TRUCKLE HILL,
NORTH WRAXALL,
WILTSHIRE

Interim Report on the 2009 Archaeological Excavation


and Outreach Programme

Produced for:
Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Cocklebury Road
Chippenham
Wiltshire
SN15 3QN

By:
Wessex Archaeology
Portway House
Old Sarum Park
Salisbury
Wiltshire
SP4 6EB

February 2010

WA Document Ref. No. 58523.01

© Copyright Wessex Archaeology Limited 2010 all rights reserved


Wessex Archaeology Limited is a Registered Charity No. 287786
NEW DISCOVERIES ON A DETACHED ROMAN BATH-HOUSE
AND TWO EARLIER BUILDINGS AT TRUCKLE HILL,
NORTH WRAXALL,
WILTSHIRE

Interim Report on the 2009 Archaeological Excavation


and Outreach Programme

CONTENTS

Summary..................................................................................................................................iii
Acknowledgements .................................................................................................................. v

1. INTRODUCTION................................................................................................................ 1
1.1. General ....................................................................................................................... 1
1.2. Previous work at the site............................................................................................. 1
1.3. Outreach..................................................................................................................... 3
2. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES.................................................................................................. 3
3. METHOD STATEMENT..................................................................................................... 4
4. STRUCTURAL SEQUENCE ............................................................................................. 4
4.1. Introduction................................................................................................................. 4
4.2. Period 1: pre – bath-house building 1......................................................................... 5
4.3. Period 2: pre – bath-house building 2......................................................................... 7
4.4. Period 3: bath-house building................................................................................... 11
4.5. Period 4: crop-dryer 50 ............................................................................................. 12
5. FINDS .............................................................................................................................. 13
6. ENVIRONMENTAL REMAINS ........................................................................................ 14
7. DISCUSSION AND PROPOSALS .................................................................................. 14
7.1. Introduction............................................................................................................... 14
7.2. Structural sequence.................................................................................................. 14
7.3. Finds......................................................................................................................... 16
7.4. Environmental remains ............................................................................................. 16
7.5. Outreach................................................................................................................... 16
7.6. Publication ................................................................................................................ 17
7.7. Archive...................................................................................................................... 17
8. BIBLIOGRAPHY.............................................................................................................. 18

APPENDIX 1: Context Summary

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FIGURES

Figure 1. Site location plan


Figure 2. Plan of bath-house (period 3 – revised interpretation), and 2009 excavation
trenches (P - X)
Figure 3. Plan showing details and projected extent of pre - bath-house buildings
(periods 1 and 2)
Figure 4. Plan of crop dryer 50 (period 4), within period 3 bath-house, and
approximate extent of associated crop drying debris

PLATES

Cover. Period 2 building (Trench Q): wall 39 and associated baths / tanks (view from
south-east)

Plate 1. Period 1 building (Trench K): north-west corner - walls 30 and 46 (scale =
1m; view from north)
Plate 2. Period 1 building (Trench K): column base 34 (scale = 1m; view from south-
east)
Plate 3. Period 1 building (Trench U): second window opening in wall 32, adjacent to
period 3 bath-house wall 20 (scale = 1m; view from east)
Plate 4. Period 1 and 2 buildings (Trench P): south-east corner, showing walls 35
and 36 ‘clasping’ earlier wall 32, overlain by period 3 bath-house walls 21 /
22 (scale = 1m; view from east)
Plate 5. Period 2 building (Trench P): ‘platform’ 37 (scale = 2m; view from south-
east)
Plate 6. Period 2 building (Trench Q): wall 39 and associated baths / tanks (note
blocked tile-lined drain), overlain by period 3 bath-house walls 10 and 7/22;
wall 40 in background (scale = 1m; view from north-east)
Plate 7. Period 2 building (Trench V): wall 44, overlain by period 3 bath-house wall 3
to the left; period 3 bath-house wall 17 to the right (scale = 1m; view from
south-west)
Plate 8. Period 2 building (Trench W): wall 49, overlain by ‘layered’ foundations for
period 3 bath-house wall 5 to the left; wall 48 overlain by period 3 bath-
house wall 16 to the right (scale = 1m; view from north-east)
Plate 9. Period 4 crop-dryer 50 (Trench T): the hearth in the flue lies in the
foreground, with remnants of period 2 mosaic floor and associated mortar
bedding (325) surviving in the base of the stoke-hole, flue and chamber
(scale = 1m; view from west)

Back cover. Trowbridge Young Archaeologists Club site visit

TABLES

Table 1. Site Archive

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NEW DISCOVERIES ON A DETACHED ROMAN BATH-HOUSE
AND TWO EARLIER BUILDINGS AT TRUCKLE HILL,
NORTH WRAXALL,
WILTSHIRE

Interim Report on the 2009 Archaeological Excavation


and Outreach Programme

Summary

Wessex Archaeology, with the support of Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service,


undertook a third season of a continuing archaeological excavation and outreach
programme to provide more information about a recently discovered Roman bath-
house at Truckle Hill, North Wraxall, Wiltshire, centred on Ordnance Survey NGR
383700 176240.

As in 2007 and 2008 the success of the project has owed much to the support of the
landowner and, especially, the large number of highly motivated and very competent
volunteer excavators it has attracted.

Previous work at and in the vicinity of the Truckle Hill Roman bath-house, culminating
in the excavation of 2007, uncovered a particularly well-preserved structure, arguably
one of the best surviving rural, detached bath-houses in the country, and also one of
the largest. Subsequent conservation work was followed by targeted excavations in
2008 which revealed further details of the bath-house and showed the cold bath in
frigidarium / cold bath 1 to be unusually deep. Investigation of the promontory to the
north of the bath-house revealed a sequence of deposits interpreted as deriving from
lime / mortar preparation and, if so, represents a rare discovery of what must have
been a commonplace feature on many villa and other sites that had substantial stone
structures. However, the most significant and unexpected discovery was elements of
an earlier building, of uncertain function, beneath the bath-house. The high status of
this building, most likely constructed in the late 1st or early 2nd century AD, was
indicated by the exceptional quality of some of the painted wall plaster, the remains
of a mosaic floor, a few fragments of window glass and a probable column base.

Excavations in 2009 revealed more of the early (period 1) building’s extent and
layout, including part of a second window opening, but its function remains uncertain.
A bath-house now appears very unlikely, as does a detached summer dining room
associated with the villa; other possibilities might include a temple or shrine.
Subsidence at the east end remains the most likely cause of its abandonment in the
2nd century AD.

The most significant discovery in 2009 was that the period 1 building was not directly
replaced by the bath-house, but by a substantial and hitherto unsuspected stone
building (period 2) which pre-dated the bath-house (period 3) excavated in 2007. This
newly discovered building, possibly a bath-house, nymphaeum or temple, measured
approximately 13m square and appeared to have incorporated the south and west
walls of its predecessor. The internal layout remains somewhat uncertain though it
included at least two tanks or baths and one of the rooms contained a mosaic of
which small areas of white tesserae survived. At the south-east corner was the base
of a large ‘platform’ or tower, possibly the base for a water tank. The reason for this

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building having been abandoned and levelled is unclear for no evidence for
subsidence was apparent. The precise dating for its construction and demolition also
remain uncertain, largely because of a paucity of pottery and other datable finds,
though construction in the mid 2nd and demolition in the late 2nd / early 3rd century
might be provisionally suggested.

A further important realisation in 2009 was that what has been previously assumed to
be the ‘front’ (east side, facing down slope towards the stream) of the period 3 bath-
house was in fact the ‘back’, and the ‘back’ (west side, facing up slope where the villa
was located) was the ‘front’. This has important implications as it now almost
certainly links the use of the bath-house to the villa, and has also led to a
reconsideration of the layout and function of the rooms within the bath-house. The
entrance is now seen to have been on the west side, with the so-called ‘entrance
corridor’ to the east a later development (related to the operation of the period 4 crop-
dryer), and what previously was understood to be the caldarium can now be
interpreted as the tepidarium, and vice versa. This reversal of use solves the problem
of the ‘missing’ furnace, for the annexe to the smaller room, now the caldarium,
would have been the praefurnium, housing the furnace, the flue arch having been
destroyed and the doorway to the exterior disturbed, probably during antiquarian
investigations.

Finally, excavations in 2009 have clarified further the layout and date of the period 4
crop-dryer. These have revealed a typical T-shaped arrangement of Roman date, but
with the stoke-hole and flue to the west, not the east as previously thought. Pottery
from the crop-dryer confirms a likely 4th century date, and a post-Roman use can now
be ruled-out.

Following completion of the excavations of 2009, all trenches have been wholly or
partly backfilled and all exposed wall faces (now consolidated and repointed) covered
with a plastic membrane and soil banked up against them to protect them from frost
damage.

In 2010 proposals are to reveal the north-west corner of the newly-discovered period
2 building and clarify several details concerning the internal layout. In 2011 it is
hoped to investigate selected features revealed by geophysical survey on the top of
Truckle Hill to provide more information about the setting of the villa as well as
possibly revealing something of the pre-existing Iron Age landscape.

In 2012, a post-excavation programme is proposed which will bring together the


results of the 2010-11 investigations, integrate them with the results of the 2007-9
investigations, re-examine the evidence from the 19th excavations of the Truckle Hill
(North Wraxall) villa, and place the whole in its context of Late Iron Age and Romano-
British settlement in this part of the Wiltshire Cotswolds. It is anticipated that the
results will be published as an article in the Wiltshire Archaeology and Natural History
Magazine.

iv
NEW DISCOVERIES ON A DETACHED ROMAN BATH-HOUSE
AND TWO EARLIER BUILDINGS AT TRUCKLE HILL,
NORTH WRAXALL,
WILTSHIRE

Interim Report on the 2009 Archaeological Excavation


and Outreach Programme

Acknowledgements

The programme of archaeological work in 2009 was commissioned by Wiltshire


Council, and we are most grateful to them for providing funding towards the
excavation and outreach work. In this respect, the support of Melanie Pomeroy-
Kellinger (County Archaeologist, Wiltshire Council) has been instrumental in the
success of the project. Further funding has come from the Association for Roman
Archaeology and also from Chippenham Civic Society, and we would like to thank
Mike Stone (Curator, Chippenham Museum) for his role in obtaining these vital
resources. Wiltshire Council (through their Monument Management Scheme) and
English Heritage (through their Monument Management Scheme Funding) have
provided financial support for the conservation and protection of the bath-house and
we are grateful to Veryan Heal (Team Leader, English Heritage South West) for her
role in this programme. Additional support has been provided by Wessex
Archaeology through its community programme led by Margaret Bunyard. The
interest and help provided by the landowner, Mr Antony Little, continues to be a
major factor in the success of the project which, without his support, would not take
place.

Various individuals provided help during the course of the fieldwork. Particular thanks
are due to Steven Hill (Dooey) with his quad bike which together took all our
equipment and finds to and from the site, daily replenished our water supplies and
assisted with the backfilling. Paul and Karen Lysley kindly allowed parking on their
land for the many volunteers and visitors. Dave Sabin and Kerry Donaldson assisted
by Jack Donaldson undertook a ground penetrating radar survey, carried out metal
detecting and also contributed significantly to the interpretation of various features.
We would also like to acknowledge Martin Henig, Mike Stone, Grahame Soffe, David
Rider, Antony Little and Paul Hadley amongst others for many stimulating
discussions concerning the interpretation of this important and unexpectedly complex
site. Rachael Seager Smith advised on the collection and retention of the ceramic
building material and has provided spot-dating for the pottery. Margaret Melsom and
Paul Fennell kindly processed the finds. We are also grateful to Susan Clelland for
the GPS survey and John Drew Junior for undertaking the challenging task of
backfilling the excavation trenches by machine, a task which relieved us of many
hours’ hard labour backfilling by hand.

As in 2007, the involvement of a large number of enthusiastic and very capable


volunteers was the key factor in the success of the project, the total number reaching
almost 30 over the two week duration of the excavation. They included members of
local groups, university students, museum volunteers, staff from Wiltshire Council
and Wessex Archaeology or ex-Wessex Archaeology staff, and individuals - some
local, some from further afield - who were simply keen to be involved with the project.
Paul Hadley, Jayne O’Connell and Clive Green were ever-present and their skill and

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experience was much appreciated. However, all those who took part are greatly
thanked for their help.

The fieldwork was directed by Phil Andrews with the assistance Darren Baker. The
project was managed for Wessex Archaeology by Margaret Bunyard, who also co-
ordinated the team of volunteers and the participation of the Young Archaeologists’
Club. We are especially grateful to Cally Langhurst, Cat McHarg, Susan Clelland and
Louise Mansbridge for organising the Young Archaeologists’ Club visits and
activities.

This report was compiled by Phil Andrews, with graphics by Rob Goller.

vi
NEW DISCOVERIES ON A DETACHED ROMAN BATH-HOUSE
AND TWO EARLIER BUILDINGS AT TRUCKLE HILL,
NORTH WRAXALL,
WILTSHIRE

Interim Report on the 2009 Archaeological Excavation


and Outreach Programme

1 INTRODUCTION

1.1 General

1.1.1 Wessex Archaeology, with the support of Wiltshire Council Archaeology


Service (WCAS), undertook a third season of the continuing archaeological
excavation and outreach programme to provide more information about a
newly-discovered Roman bath-house at Truckle Hill, North Wraxall,
Wiltshire, centred on Ordnance Survey NGR 383700 176240 (Figure 1).

1.1.2 The Truckle Hill Roman bath-house lies at a height of c. 84m aOD on the
west side of a narrow, steep-sided valley within the parish of North Wraxall in
North Wiltshire. It sits within the Wiltshire Cotswolds in a landscape rich in
Romano-British archaeology – the Fosse Way Roman Road lies 1.5 km to
the west as does the major shrine site at Nettleton Shrub. The bath-house is
only a little over 100m north of the Truckle Hill (North Wraxall) Roman Villa, a
substantial villa and probable farm estate centre, partly excavated by G.
Poulet-Scrope in 1859-60 (Scheduled Monument W878; WAM 1862; Scott
1993, 205), which occupies a relatively flat, hilltop position. Further details
relating to the setting and discovery of the bath-house can be found in the
publication of the 2007 work on the site (Andrews 2009).

1.2 Previous work at the site

1.2.1 Following the partial exposure of the Roman bath-house in 2004 during small-
scale stone quarrying activity by the landowner, a rapid recording exercise
was undertaken by Wessex Archaeology (WA 2005). Subsequently, a rapid
walkover survey was carried out by the English Heritage (EH) Archaeological
Survey & Investigation team of the narrow valley containing the site. The EH
Geophysics Team undertook an earth resistance survey of the immediate
vicinity of the bath-house which produced clear results suggesting the
presence of at least one further building and a complex of other
archaeological features (Linford and Payne 2005). Initial conclusions of this
preliminary work were that the entire head of the valley may have formed a
managed landscape in Roman times, potentially of similar nature to the
nearby site at Nettleton and probably attached to the Truckle Hill villa estate.

1.2.2 The steep topography of the valley side upon which the bath-house was
constructed has posed a difficult conservation problem since the time of the
building’s discovery. Direct vehicle access to the site, especially for one
carrying fill material, is virtually impossible. Unfortunately, co-ordinated
attempts to adequately protect the exposed remains through the winter

1
months of 2004-6 were not successful, and deterioration of the site
accelerated at an alarming pace.

1.2.3 Following a site visit in May 2007 it was felt that the maximum effort should go
immediately into the urgent preservation by record of the most vulnerable
parts of the bath-house. To achieve this aim a partnership project (WCAS, EH
and WA) was proposed which would provide the resources and people to
undertake controlled excavation of the site and maximise the opportunities
thus afforded.

1.2.4 Excavations in 2007 (Andrews 2009) and 2008 (WA 2009) uncovered the
complete suite of rooms, of two phases, with initial construction probably
taking place during the 2nd century AD, most likely towards the end of that
century. The use of the bath-house continued until the end of the 3rd or,
possibly, the early 4th century AD. The phase 1 frigidarium / cold bath was
particularly deep, a plunge pool rather than a bath, and there is a possibility
that the new, phase 2 frigidarium / cold bath remained unfinished at the time
the bath-house ceased operation. Excavations in 2007-8 failed, however, to
locate the praefurnium / furnace. The chronological relationship to the bath
suite in the Truckle Hill villa excavated in the mid-19th century is uncertain, but
it is suggested that the two co-existed, although the use of the latter may
have superseded the detached bath-house which was subsequently
abandoned.

1.2.5 The most significant and surprising discovery in 2008 was elements of an
earlier building, of uncertain function, beneath the bath-house. The high
status of this building, most likely constructed in the late 1st or early 2nd
century AD, was indicated by the exceptional quality of some of the painted
wall plaster (some in situ and imitating a variety of Italian marbles), the
remains of a mosaic floor, a few fragments of window glass and a probable
column base.

1.2.6 A surprisingly small assemblage of finds, particularly metalwork (excluding


nails), was present. However, the large quantity of decorative material
recovered in 2008 (particularly the painted wall plaster) demonstrated that the
predecessor to the bath-house was relatively sumptuously appointed, though
the situation is less clear in the case of the bath-house itself. The large size of
the bath-house and its proximity to the villa suggested that it may have been
used by the occupants and visitors to the villa rather than being a separate
bath-house for estate workers.

1.2.7 Like some other detached bath-houses, it was subsequently used for
agricultural purposes, perhaps as a barn, and a corn-drying kiln was
constructed within part of the shell of the abandoned building, probably in the
4th century AD. Samples from deposits associated with this activity were
exceptionally rich in cereal remains, comprising predominately glumes and
spikelet forks of spelt wheat (Stevens 2009). These are highly indicative of
mass de-husking on a scale probably far exceeding the needs of the nearby
villa’s inhabitants. The most likely reason for this is that pure, cleaned grain
was being produced to supply military needs and towns, for example Bath
which lay less than 15 kilometres to the south-west along the Fosse Way.

1.2.8 There is convincing evidence that parts of the bath-house were excavated in
the 19th century with G. Poulet-Scrope, excavator of the nearby villa,
remaining the most likely candidate for this work. There is also a possibility

2
that the exposed bath-house structure was consolidated and retained as a
landscape feature at that time.

1.2.9 Following completion of work in 2007, the archaeological trenches were


backfilled by hand. Fill material generated from the excavation was
strategically placed (over Teram) to protect the vulnerable and exposed
structural elements that could not be preserved by consolidation. Over the
winter of 2007-8 the more robust of the exposed bath-house walls were
packed and re-pointed with lime mortar and the wall heads ‘soft capped’ with
turf by specialist contractors to aid their long-term preservation. This
conservation work was funded locally by WCAS via the Monument
Management Scheme. Following completion of the 2008 excavation the
deeper trenches were backfilled by hand and all structural remains covered
with Teram and soil pending further excavation.

1.2.10 During 2007-8 the villa and adjacent hilltop area were subject to geophysical
survey which pinpointed the location and confirmed the orientation of the villa
complex as well as recording a variety of other features, some likely to be of
Iron Age date. Furthermore, LiDAR data indicates the presence of a road
approaching the north side of the villa through what is now dense woodland
(Archaeological Surveys Ltd 2008).

1.3 Outreach

1.3.1 The landowner, Antony Little, is very interested in the history of his site and
favourably disposed to investigation. He generously agreed to cordon off the
area of the Roman bath-house and make it and the surrounding part of the
valley available for investigation over several seasons.

1.3.2 Not only is the site of intrinsic interest and worthy of research, but its position
and state of preservation make it an ideal candidate for community
involvement and outreach, extending the benefits of archaeology to a wider
audience. It is not often that there is such a good opportunity to involve
members of the local community in a significant archaeological investigation.

1.3.3 Education and outreach were therefore considered as central to this project,
and not as an additional feature. The involvement of local community groups
was planned into each relevant phase of the work.

1.3.4 Furthermore, the involvement of volunteers and students has allowed a far
greater level of investigation to take place than would otherwise have been
possible within the constraints of the budgets in 2007, 2008 and, particularly,
2009.

2 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

2.1 The principal aim of the 2009 archaeological excavation was to:

• Reveal as much as possible (within the constraints of the extant


bath-house remains) of the extent and layout of the early (period 1),
pre-bath-house building and establish, if possible, its period of use
and function.

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2.2 An integral part of this project was the outreach programme, the aim of which
was to enable members of the public, local societies and students to take
part in the process and delivery of a worthwhile project. The objective was to
encourage community and outreach activities and provide training in field
survey and excavation techniques.

2.3 A further objective was to provide archaeological data of sufficient quality to


inform the designation of the site, in combination with other research data.
This will also increase understanding of the archaeological resource
represented on the site and inform revision and further focusing of the
longer-term research project.

3 METHOD STATEMENT

3.1 No specific method statement was prepared for the 2009 excavation, but that
contained in the Project Design for the 2007 excavation (WA 2007) was also
used for the 2008 and 2009 works, including finds collection and
environmental sampling strategies. As in 2007 and 2008, all trenches were
hand-excavated. Following conclusion of the 2009 programme, all trenches
were backfilled, this time using a 1-ton tracked excavator fitted with a
ditching bucket, with care taken to use the appropriate material to cover
exposed areas of painted wall plaster and other sensitive areas (ie walls and
floor surfaces).

4 STRUCTURAL SEQUENCE

4.1 Introduction

4.1.1 The excavation was undertaken over a two week period at the end of
September and the beginning of October 2009. The exceptional volunteer
response resulted in an average daily workforce of 10 people, enabling the
principal aim of the excavation to be fully addressed. Nine new trenches
were excavated, designated Trenches P – X, and further work was
undertaken in Trenches A and K which had been opened in 2008, resulting
in them being linked together (Figure 2). The opening of trenches proceeded
in an iterative fashion, reflecting the progressive nature of discoveries and
the need to develop a further understanding of the structural sequence.

4.1.2 Prior to the 2009 excavation it was assumed that the results would relate
primarily to the predecessor to the bath-house, first recorded in 2008.
However, during the course of the excavation it became clear that there was
a further, previously unsuspected building ‘sandwiched’ in the sequence
between the bath-house and what, in 2008, was thought to be its immediate
predecessor, though there was no certain evidence that the latter was a
bath-house. Therefore, the discoveries relating to these buildings are
described separately below, and for the sake of clarity the following
sequence has been adopted (suggested date ranges are provisional):

• Period 1. Pre – bath-house building 1 (late 1st/early 2nd – mid 2nd century)

• Period 2. Pre – bath-house building 2 (mid 2nd – late 2nd/early 3rd century)

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• Period 3. Bath-house (late 2nd/early 3rd – late 3rd/early 4th century)

• Period 4. Crop-dryer (early – mid 4th century)

GPR survey

4.1.3 Prior to and during the course of the excavations various parts of the site
were subject to a ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey, undertaken by
Dave Sabin and Kerry Donaldson with the assistance of Jack Donaldson
(details in archive). The extant bath-house walls provided the main
constraints to this work, and the sloping ground covered with rough grass
and, in places, thicker vegetation also provided a challenge to the team.

4.1.4 To the south of the period 3 bath-house the GPR survey clearly indicated the
presence and extent of period 2 masonry platform 37 (see below), but
showed no other certain evidence for structural remains in this area. The
general absence of structures here appears to have been confirmed during
the subsequent, limited excavations undertaken on this part of the terrace to
the south of the bath-house. Previously the area had been highlighted, on
the basis of its location and extent, as one that had good potential for the
presence of further structures.

4.1.5 Within the confines of the bath-house itself the GPR survey results were
somewhat ambiguous but appeared to show evidence for terracing of the
natural deposits (beneath the apodyterium), terracing which continued down
slope to the east of the bath-house. Evidence for terracing of the slope was
also recorded in the 2008 excavations (in Trenches G and H), and is likely to
have formed part of the ground preparation prior to building construction.

4.1.6 The results of the GPR survey on the slope to the north of the bath-house
were also somewhat ambiguous, but indicated the presence of one ditch at
least, running down slope. This ditch may correlate with an anomaly
recorded in the 2004 geophysical survey undertaken by English Heritage
(Linford and Payne 2005).

4.2 Period 1: pre - bath-house building 1 (Figures 2 and 3)

West side (Trenches A, D and K. Figure 3; Plates 1 and 2)

4.2.1 Trench K was extended to the south to link with Trench A. This showed wall
30 (with painted imitation marble, exposed in 2008) to return to the east as
wall 46, the painted decoration continuing on the inner face of wall 46, and
together these walls formed the north-west corner of the period 1 building
(Plate 1). The remnant of mosaic floor uncovered in 2008 at the base of wall
30 was not further exposed in 2009. Only a stub of wall 46 survived as it had
been largely destroyed to the east during construction of the period 3 bath-
house. It may, however, have continued to the west (beyond the limit of
excavation), acting as a revetment (as did wall 30), built into the natural
slope and perhaps forming part of the ‘forecourt’ / access arrangements to
the period 1 building from the villa to the south (see below).

4.2.2 Approximately 1.75m north of the corner of the building was column base 34
(partly exposed in 2008), 0.75m square and 0.4m high, with the stratigraphic

5
sequence indicating that it was probably contemporary with the period 1
building (Plate 2). The column base was plain and the top and upper parts of
the sides had suffered some degree of exfoliation as a result of frost action
(in antiquity). It sat on a substantial limestone slab (0.11m thick), though not
quite square to it, suggesting that the slab might once have been part of a
more extensive paved surface which had later been robbed, rather than an
element of the column base.

4.2.3 Wall 46 and column base 34 were surrounded and partly covered by a series
of demolition deposits (335), which were then buried beneath colluvium /
hillwash (2008 contexts 233 – 235). Limited excavation behind (ie west of)
wall 30 in Trench A showed that here a thin build-up of colluvium directly
overlay natural deposits. It thus demonstrated that wall 30 was not free-
standing and also that there were no further rooms in building 1 on the west
side of this wall.

4.2.4 Trench T to the south enlarged Trench J excavated in 2008. This showed
that wall 31, a continuation to the south of wall 30, was butted by wall 45
which ran east / west, and together these formed the south-west corner of
the period 1 building. Like wall 46 in Trench K, only a stub of wall 45
remained, as to the east it had been destroyed by construction of the period
3 bath-house. It was clear, however, that it continued to the west (beyond the
limit of excavation) where it formed a revetment against the side of the
natural slope to the north. It is suggested that this formed part of the access
arrangements from the villa upslope to the south, perhaps with a formal path
or steps linking the two building complexes.

South side (Trenches P and U. Figure 3; Plates 3 and 4)

4.2.5 Trench P encompassed and considerably expanded upon the areas


excavated as Trenches E, M and N in 2008. The window opening in wall 32,
uncovered earlier in Trench M, was re-exposed, and a further trench (U)
opened a few metres to the west. This revealed the greater part of a second
window opening in wall 32, of identical form to that uncovered in 2008, but
better preserved (Plate 3). The two windows were 2.5m apart (3.75m centre-
to-centre). In Trench U, the lower parts of the splayed sides and cill survived
and were covered with plaster, painted white with a broad red stripe around
the innermost part of the splay. The splay increased from a width of 0.6m on
the outside to 1.2m on the inside.

4.2.6 It wasn’t possible to establish the nature or height of the contemporary floor
level within the very restricted space available for investigation in this area,
although a floor in the order of 1m below the bottom of the cill splay might be
anticipated. Certainly, comparison of levels indicates that the floor here was
lower than the mosaic at the west end of the building, adjacent to wall 30,
recorded in 2008. Furthermore, a remnant of external paved surface (331),
probably contemporary with wall 32, was found preserved in Trench P
beneath the southern edge of period 2 ‘platform’ 37, at a height of 82.90m
aOD, approximately 0.85m below the level of the window cill splay.

4.2.7 The surviving east end of wall 32 was exposed in Trench P (Plate 4) and
from this it was clear that at least part of this wall and the east wall (of which
nothing survived) had collapsed and / or been demolished. Subsequently the
remaining part of the south wall as well, it appears, as the west wall were
incorporated in the period 2, pre – bath-house building (see below).

6
4.3 Period 2: pre - bath-house building 2 (Figures 2 and 3; Plates 4 - 8)

4.3.1 No elements of this relatively extensive and substantial building had been
recognised during the 2007-8 excavations, though it is now clear that wall 13
in frigidarium / cold bath 1 of the period 3 bath-house had been retained from
the period 2 building.

4.3.2 Following its first recognition in 2009, initially in Trenches P and Q, Trenches
S, V and W were positioned to determine further details of the extent and
layout of the period 2 building, though further work is required, particularly in
the north-west corner, to clarify this. As currently understood, however, the
building was approximately 13m square.

4.3.3 As noted above, it appears that the south wall (32, with window openings,
and 45) and the west wall (30, 31, and also part of 46, with richly decorated
wall plaster) of the period 1 building were retained as part of the more
extensive (and substantial) period 2 building, though why this should have
been done is at present unclear. Structurally, this does not seem logical, and
further work is necessary to understand, as far as possible, how these
structures were articulated, particularly on the west side.

South side (Trenches P, U and X. Figure 3; Plates 4 and 5)

4.3.4 The articulation of the period 1 and period 2 buildings is best illustrated at
the south-east corner (Trench P) where the walls forming the corner (35 and
36) of the period 2 building ‘clasp’ and incorporate the surviving east end of
period 1 wall 32 (Plate 4), the remainder of this wall apparently having
broken away and / or been demolished. Wall 35, on the east side, had been
thickened from 0.75m to 0.9m at the south end, and was also 0.15m wider
than wall 36 on the south side. This in effect formed a buttress. The wall was
presumably built more substantially here to reduce the risk of subsidence in
the deeper deposits towards the edge of the artificial terrace on which the
buildings were constructed. Indeed, unlike the period 1 building (and the
frigidarium / cold bath 1 of the period 3 bath-house), there was no evidence
that the period 2 building had suffered from any subsidence.

4.3.5 Relatively little of wall 36 was exposed as period 3 bath-house wall 19/20
had been constructed directly on top of it, but it could be seen to have been
built along the inside of period 1 wall 32, leaving only a very narrow gap
between the two. What was less clear was the relationship of wall 36 to the
two window openings in wall 32. It seemingly blocked the lower parts of the
cills of the two windows, but how high the wall extended above this level is
unknown as it had been subsequently levelled for the construction of the
period 3 bath-house. What is more clear, however, is that wall 36 didn’t
extend as far west as period 1 wall 30/31, and it may have returned to the
north beneath period 3 bath-house wall 16 (see below).

4.3.6 Excavation within the restricted area exposed in the south-east corner of the
period 2 building showed it was filled with tightly packed rubble, forming a
solid foundation for the corner of the period 3 bath-house. From what could
be seen, the inner faces of walls 35 and 36 appeared to be covered with
remnants of plain white plaster, and the floor lay at a depth of approximately
0.85m below this, though this could only be ascertained by ‘probing’ and its
nature is unknown.

7
4.3.7 At the south-east corner of building 2 was a substantial, sub-rectangular
masonry base or ‘platform’ (37). This measured 3.75m by 2.40m and
survived to a height of approximately 1.3m (Plate 5). The exterior faces were
formed of roughly dressed, quite regularly coursed stone, with some ashlars
used in the corners, and the interior comprised mortared stone rubble.
‘Platform’ 37 butted wall 32 and overlay possible paved surface 331, both
assigned to period 1, with a narrow gap left between it and period 2 walls
35/36. Although paved surface 331 had been robbed where it was not
preserved beneath ‘platform’ 37, it appears likely that its use spanned both
periods 1 and 2. ‘Platform’ 37 had been levelled when the period 3 bath-
house was built and no evidence for what it might once have supported
survived. It may have been, for example, the base for a water tank, or
possibly a free-standing tower.

4.3.8 Built up against wall 32 and ‘platform’ 37 were a succession of demolition


deposits which comprised large amounts of stone rubble, mortar and wall
plaster (context 305 was particularly notable for the quantity of wall plaster it
contained). It is clear that these derived largely from the demolition and
levelling of the period 2 building, though some may come from the period 1
building. (It can be noted, however, that none of the decoration on the
plaster matched the imitation marble scheme recorded in situ on the west
and north walls (30 and 46 respectively) of the period 1 building).

4.3.9 Trench X, to the west of Trench P, was excavated to investigate a faint linear
anomaly revealed in the GPR survey of the area south of the bath-house.
However, within the 1m square excavation, only demolition deposits were
encountered, similar to those recorded in Trench P (see above). It would
appear that much of the area to the south of the bath-house (as well as the
slope to the east) is covered by demolition deposits, primarily derived from
the period 2 and 3 buildings. Apart from the single anomaly there was
nothing further in the GPR survey results to suggest that any structures lay
in this area.

East side (Trenches Q and D. Figure 3; Plate 6)

4.3.10 North of the south-east corner, wall 35 continued as wall 39 (in Trench Q)
and survived to a height of 1.5m above the contemporary ground surface
(Plate 5), and beyond this it was preserved to a height of approximately 2m
where it was retained as the west wall (13) of the cold bath or plunge pool in
frigidarium / cold bath 1 of the period 3 bath-house. Wall 39 was 0.75m wide
and (as elsewhere) well constructed of somewhat irregularly sized but
roughly squared, regularly coursed limestone set in a cream-coloured slightly
sandy mortar. The depth of the wall foundations was not established here or
anywhere else within the building, but indirect evidence indicates them to be
substantial. A remnant (measuring approximately 0.6m by 0.4m) of render
survived in situ on the external face of wall 39, and is of note for none has
survived elsewhere on the wall elevations exposed. This render comprised a
white, slightly sandy plaster with a noticeably rough surface, in contrast to
the smooth or polished finish of the internal, painted plaster.

4.3.11 Perhaps the most significant feature of wall 39 was an arched drain, 0.7m
high and 0.5m wide, formed of ceramic tiles, which pierced the wall and led
from a bath or tank inside (see below). No external surface survived, but the
drain presumably fed into a channel of some sort. This drain was later

8
carefully blocked, probably immediately prior to the construction of the period
3 bath-house, most likely because it would have been a weak point beneath
the corner of walls 7 and 22 of what is now interpreted as the praefurnium
(see below). Further ceramic tiles were noted at a similar height
approximately 3m to the north in the east face of wall 13 during the
excavation in 2008 of the frigidarium / cold bath 1 of the period 3 bath-house.
Although clearly a group, no pattern was apparent, and at the time it was
thought that these might have been part of an inlet or blocking / repair in this
wall. However, it now seems probable that they may have been part of
another drain (later blocked) from a second bath or tank in the period 2
building (see below).

4.3.12 Only a small part of wall 40 was exposed, at the south end of Trench Q, any
further investigation precluded by the depth of deposits in this area.
However, it is suggested that this wall, aligned east-west and butted against
wall 39, may have been a buttress, though it may have been related to the
terracing arrangements on the slope. The possibility of the latter might be
supported by the height of the surviving wall, which was only 0.50m, and this
may originally have been almost its full height. The width of the wall was not
ascertained, nor was its extent to the east, but an offset at the base provides
a clear indication of the contemporary ground level, at c. 82.00m aOD,
corresponding with that in front of the drain in wall 39. By comparison, the
contemporary ground level to the south-west (in Trench P) was at c. 82.80m
aOD, indicating a step or steps up to this level.

North side (Trenches S and V. Figure 3; Plate 7)

4.3.13 Wall 44 probably defined the northern extent of the period 2 building. A short
length of the basal course and foundations were exposed in Trench S, where
it was 0.65m wide, but further to the east only part of the south elevation was
seen, in Trench V, where it lay directly below period 3 bath-house walls 3
and 9, (Plate 7). No plaster survived in situ on the wall faces, but very little of
the wall survived in Trench S and the wall exposed in Trench V almost
certainly lay below the contemporary floor level (see below).

4.3.14 Wall 48 (in Trench S) was bonded with wall 44 and extended to the south
beneath period 3 bath-house wall 16. It is perhaps most likely that this was
an internal wall and it is discussed further below.

West side (Trenches S and W. Figure 3)

4.3.15 The period 2 structural arrangements in this area are not yet clear and
require further investigation. Wall 44 on the north side is thought likely to turn
to the south and align with wall 30 / 31 (as well as column base 34) which
formed the west side of the period 1 building, though how these different
elements articulated remains to be established. What does seem clear,
however, is that there were no period 2 walls in trenches K and T, though the
period 1 walls (30, 31, 45 and part of 46) in this area were incorporated in
the Period 2 building.

Internal arrangements (Trenches Q, R, S, V, and W. Figure 3; Plates 6 - 9)

4.3.16 Little of the interior of the period 2 building was or could be investigated, in
large part due to the constraints imposed by the extant period 3 bath-house
remains. However, several of the trenches excavated in 2009 provided

9
tantalising glimpses of the layout and decoration of the building, and these
have contributed to an understanding of its possible function.

4.3.17 Wall 48, aligned north-south, was exposed in elevation in Trenches S and
W, directly beneath period 3 bath-house wall 16. It was probably also
present in Trenches A and I excavated in 2008, again directly beneath bath-
house wall 16, though at that time its significance in the structural sequence
went unrecognised; here it was thought to have been the lower, foundation
courses of wall 16. The construction of wall 48 may have created a corridor,
rooms or spaces 3m wide along the west side of the building, in part by
incorporating the earlier, period 1 walls (30/31, 45 and part of 46) in this
arrangement. Perhaps these earlier walls formed a single room at the
southern end (the high quality wall painting and mosaic probably also
retained), with a corresponding (as yet undiscovered) room at the northern
end and a formal entrance in between, represented by column base 34 (one
of a pair?), also retained from period 1. Certainly, the mortar bedding (334,
at c. 83.80m aOD) in the angle between walls 44 and 48 in Trench S, sealed
beneath the period 3 deposits, suggests the former presence of a floor
surface, most likely within an internal space. Proposed further investigation
of this area in 2010 is likely to clarify the structural arrangements in the
north-west corner of the period 2 building, but it appears that there is little
more to be learnt in the south-west corner where construction of the period 3
bath-house has removed large parts of the earlier walls and contemporary
floor surfaces.

4.3.18 North-south wall 48 was built over the top of east-west wall 49, exposed in
Trench W, but in all probability the two walls belonged to the same building
campaign (Plate 8). Although only a small part of the north-facing elevation
was exposed, this showed the top of wall 49 to be level, at approximately
83.20m aOD, and only c. 70mm higher than floor 325 on the south side (see
below). It is possible, therefore, that the short length (1.7m) of wall 49
revealed was part of a threshold, though the wall may have formed the base
for a partition. No floor surface contemporary with wall 49 survived on the
north side, in either Trench W or Trench V, and the relatively deep
excavation in Trench V revealed only what appears to be rubble infill / make-
up; it also showed that there was no period 2 internal wall below period 3
bath-house wall 17 (see Plate 7). The absence of a floor surface in this area
is a little surprising given the presence of floor 325 to the south, but the
possibility that this may have been timber cannot be ruled out.

4.3.19 Exposed within the base of period 4 crop dryer 50 in Trench R, to the south
of wall 49, was floor 325 which comprised a mortar bedding with three small
patches (max. 0.2m by 0.2m) of white tesserae surviving, probably the
remnants of a mosaic floor (see Plate 9). A clear edge was apparent in one
patch, this edge apparently continuing the line of the south face of wall 38
(see below), and perhaps this defined a division or some other feature within
this area. Floor 325 can be assigned to the period 2 building with confidence,
and provides some indication of the quality of decoration within this central
area at least.

4.3.20 Possibly the most significant features revealed within the period 2 building
were two adjacent baths or tanks, on the east side of the building next to wall
39 (see Plate 6 and cover). Their interpretation is somewhat ambiguous
because of the large size of the associated drain(s) (see above). The full
extent of these baths or tanks was not determined but they were clearly an

10
integral part of the building and not a later addition. Wall 38 which separated
them was 0.20m wide and bonded to wall 37. Wall 38 was between 2.5 and
3.5m in length (its extent was obscured by later walls 17 and 43), and this
provides some indication of the size of the baths or tanks. Furthermore, the
southerly of the two was 0.8m deep and the northerly at least 0.9m (probing
suggested c. 1.1m), and both were lined with opus signinum. The very
restricted space available for excavation allowed only limited investigation,
but did show that the corners at the sides and base of the southern bath /
tank were sealed by quarter-mouldings formed of opus signinum and that the
lining extended into the large, tile-lined drain which exited through wall 39.
The two baths or tanks were almost entirely filled with tightly packed stone
rubble (314 and 315 respectively), presumably in period 3 to provide a solid
foundation for the bath-house.

4.4 Period 3: bath-house building (Figure 2)

4.4.1 No new structural elements were revealed during the 2009 season, but
further reasons for the building’s location, extent and orientation have
become apparent and, most importantly, a re-interpretation of the use of
some of the rooms has been necessary as a result of discoveries relating to
the period 2, pre – bath-house building and the period 4 crop-dryer.

4.4.2 Following discovery of the previously unsuspected period 2, pre – bath-


house building it became apparent that the period 3 bath-house had re-used
a number of the earlier walls for its foundations. The use of these earlier
walls largely dictated the extent and orientation of the bath-house with, to the
south, walls 19 and 20 built on wall 36; to the west, wall 16 built on wall 48;
to the north, wall 3 built on wall 44; and to the east, wall 22 built on wall
35/39. Furthermore, the northern part of wall 39 was retained and, in a
slightly modified form, became the west wall of the plunge pool in frigidarium
/ cold bath 1.

4.4.3 A new understanding of the layout and operation of the period 4 crop-dryer
(see below) and of the articulation of the space to the west of the bath-house
(and its predecessors) has led to a reconsideration of the access
arrangements to the bath-house and, as a result of this, a reversal of ‘front’
and ‘back’. Access to the bath-house (and therefore its ‘front’) is now
considered to have been through wall 16 in the west side, between internal
walls 5 and 15. Although the precise location of the doorway was not clear, it
had been previously observed that wall 16 was somewhat rougher
immediately north of wall 15, and this might reflect a threshold that has
suffered from ‘wear and tear’.

4.4.4 If the doorway was located between walls 5 and 15, then the southern half of
the apodyterium may have functioned as an entrance ‘vestibule’, occupying
an area of approximately 5m by 3.25m, with access from here into the
tepidarium (see below) through a narrow doorway (later blocked) at the west
end of wall 7 and, initially at least, into frigidarium / cold bath 1, though the
location of a doorway to this through wall 17 has not been established. If this
entrance ‘vestibule’ did exist, then the apodyterium proper may have
occupied the space to the north-west of offset walls 4 and 5, an area of
approximately 5m by 2.25m. The newly postulated location of the entrance
might also explain the arrangement of offset walls and also the thickening of
wall 15 at the west end, for the length of this thickening (1.75m) corresponds
exactly with the length of wall 5 which lay 2.25m to the north. It might be

11
suggested, therefore, that this arrangement directly reflects the structural
requirements associated with the placing of the doorway in this location.

4.4.5 As a result of the reconsideration of access arrangements it is now fairly


certain that the so-called entrance corridor in the east side was non-existent.
What was formerly thought to have been the front of the bath-house is now
seen as the back, and the ‘threshold’ at the south end of wall 17 can be
interpreted as a result of an opening having been created in the wall during
period 4 to facilitate access to the rear of the crop-dryer chamber. This would
also explain the ragged end of the wall on the north side of this opening for
this was simply knocked through and never formed part of a door jamb; the
south end of wall 17 butted wall 7 and thus could be removed without leaving
a scar.

4.4.6 The recognition that the entrance to the bath-house was in the west rather
than the east side and that the latter was, therefore, the ‘back’ of the bath-
house has subsequently led to a re-interpretation of the use of some of the
rooms. The possible division of the apodyterium into an entrance ‘vestibule’
and changing area has been suggested above but, more importantly, it is
now considered that the published arrangement of tepidarium and caldarium
is incorrect (Andrews 2009), and that they should be reversed so that the
caldarium becomes the south-east room and the tepidarium the south-west
room in the bath-house. This makes more sense in that the caldarium can
now be identified as the smaller of the two rooms, particularly if the annexe
on the north side was the location of the ‘missing’ praefurnium (furnace
room) and not, as thought previously, part of the tepidarium. In this location
the furnace can now be seen to have lain within the rear of the bath-house,
where it might be anticipated, with access to this through a doorway towards
the north end of wall 22. This doorway was not clearly defined in plan in
2007-8, largely because this area had been disturbed, probably during
antiquarian investigation. However, exposure of the east-facing elevation of
wall 22 in 2009 appears to show the remains of an opening approximately
1m wide in this location, interpreted as a doorway. The furnace flue arch,
presumed to have been located in the 1.8m-wide gap between the opposing
‘springers’ in walls 7 and 21, did not survive, but may have been destroyed
as a result of the antiquarian intrusion here. In this respect it might be noted
that wall 14, containing the two flue arches between the caldarium and
tepidarium, survived in a relatively poor condition. No evidence for burning
survived within the praefurnium and no spent fuel deposits were encountered
outside to the east, though the contemporary ground surface in this area had
been almost completely removed through erosion.

4.5 Period 4: crop-dryer 50 (Figure 4 and Plate 9)

4.5.1 Whilst investigating part of the period 2 building (in Trench R), virtually the
full plan of the period 4 crop-dryer was unexpectedly revealed. Previously it
had been thought that the flue and stoke-hole lay to the east of the square
chamber (defined by walls 6 and 8) and that both these elements had been
at a level above the surviving ground surface. However, the 2009 excavation
revealed the well preserved remains of a T-shaped crop-dryer with the
stoke-hole and flue below this level, and lying to the west of the chamber.

4.5.2 The crop-dryer occupied the full width of the south end of the apodyterium /
entrance area to the bath-house, immediately south of or possibly adjacent
to the presumed location of the doorway in the west wall (16). The stoke-

12
hole was not fully exposed but is estimated to have been approximately
1.75m square with external access through the doorway in the west wall.
The flue was 2.5m long and up to 0.75m wide, with walls 41 and 47 forming
the south and north sides respectively, each with rubble fill behind. The flue
opened at the east end into a narrow, transverse slot 1.6m long and
approximately 0.3m wide through which the warm air would have passed
into the chamber above. The floor of the stoke-hole and flue re-used the floor
surface (325, with remnants of mosaic surviving) of the period 2 building in
this area, and the location of the hearth within the flue arch was clearly
apparent from the area of heavy burning on the floor and walls near the
mouth of the flue. The east end of the flue had been strengthened by walls
42 and 43, bonded together, which together provided a foundation for
chamber walls 6 and 8 as well, perhaps, as providing support for the mesh
on which the grain or other crops were spread out to dry.

4.5.3 There may have been access to the rear of the chamber, and this would
explain why a short section of bath-house wall 17 had been removed here.
(The previous, published suggestion that this was a threshold within the
‘entrance corridor’ can now be discounted and, furthermore, it is now
considered very unlikely that there was access to the bath-house here in
period 3).

4.5.4 The base of the crop-dryer was covered with a sequence of burnt deposits
(324) approximately 0.2m deep which previous analysis (Stevens 2009) has
indicated are rich in charred grain and probably comprise a mixture of spent
fuel and spoilt grain. Substantial deposits of similar debris have previously
been encountered (and analysed) immediately to the west of the bath-house,
presumably disposed of through the doorway, and also in the abandoned
frigidarium / cold bath 1. It is thought likely that the latter material was
removed from the rear of the chamber. It now seems clear that both of these
dumps originated from a single crop-dryer (50), rather than possibly more
than one as has previously been surmised. These dumps, as well as the
burnt material in the base of the crop-dryer, together produced the largest
assemblage of pottery from the site (though still very small in absolute
terms), and the dating of this appears to confirm that the crop-dryer was in
use during the 4th century AD. The upper part of the stoke-hole and flue was
filled largely with stone rubble and mortar (323), including at least one large
slab (approximately 0.4m square) which probably formed part of the capping
to the flue.

5 FINDS

5.1 The finds recovered during 2009 have been fully processed and recorded,
and are all of Roman date. Preliminary assessment indicates there to be a
very small quantity of pottery, most from the crop-dryer and dated to the late
3rd or 4th century (Rachael Seager Smith, pers. comm.), and a few iron
objects. There is also a moderate quantity of ceramic building material
(mostly box flue tile), some of it dated to as early as the late 1st century AD
(Mike Stone, pers. comm.), and a few fragments of window glass. As in
2008, by far the largest category of material is painted wall plaster, much of it
decorated. The painted surfaces of the plaster have been gently washed and
the material laid out to dry in trays.

13
6 ENVIRONMENTAL REMAINS

6.1 A single bulk sample was taken in 2009 but has not yet been processed. This
came from the period 4 crop-dryer, and adds to the suite of samples taken in
previous seasons from the crop-dryer, bath-house and lime / mortar
preparation area. No other contexts excavated in 2009 were considered to
have good potential for the survival of environmental remains, virtually all
comprising construction or demolition deposits.

7 DISCUSSION AND PROPOSALS

7.1 Introduction

7.1.1 In 2008 it was envisaged that 2009 would be the last season of excavation on
the bath-house. However, the unexpected discovery in 2009 of the second of
two earlier buildings beneath it has resulted in a revision to the proposed
programme of work. Overall, the sequence of buildings now revealed at
Truckle Hill is remarkable, and is of regional if not national significance.

7.1.2 The evolving layout and probable changing function of the period 1 - 3
buildings is of particular interest, a sequence in which water and ritual may
have had significant roles, though this has yet to be fully assessed and
understood. It is now anticipated that a further season of excavation will be
undertaken in 2010 to clarify, in particular, details of the newly discovered
period 2 building. This will be followed in 2011 by investigation of selected
features revealed by geophysical survey on the top of Truckle Hill, to the
south and west of the villa site. It is hoped that the proposed 2011 excavation
will provide more information about the setting of the villa as well as possibly
revealing something of the pre-existing Iron Age landscape.

7.2 Structural sequence

Period 1

7.2.1 There is probably little more to learn through further excavation of the period 1
building, a large part of which was removed during the period 2 and period 3
building campaigns. The high status of the building is indicated by the
exceptional quality of some of the painted wall plaster (Davey and Ling 1982,
46), the remains of a mosaic floor, as well as other details of the architecture,
for example the column base and the two window openings in the south wall.
This building appears to have been rectangular, aligned east-west, and
measured approximately 12m by 4.5m. It may have been approached from
the west, possibly via a monumental entrance formed by a (?)pair of columns,
with an open area to the south and perhaps also to the north. Internally, what
has been recorded suggests that the building was divided into two unequal
sized rooms, the smaller one at the west end with a mosaic and high-quality
wall plaster painted to resemble Italian marbles. The larger room to the east
was lit by two south-facing windows and had a floor (not exposed or surviving)
at a lower level than that in the west room.

7.2.2 A period of use spanning perhaps the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD can
be suggested, before the building suffered subsidence at the east end and
was partly demolished and replaced by the period 2 building. The function of
the period 1 building remains uncertain: a bath-house can almost certainly be

14
ruled out, as can a summer dining room associated with the Truckle Hill
(North Wraxall) villa, leaving a temple or shrine as other possibilities, though
the paucity of finds is of no assistance in this respect.

Period 2

7.2.3 The most significant discovery in 2009 was that the period 1 building was not
directly replaced by the bath-house, but by a substantial and hitherto
unsuspected stone building (period 2) which pre-dated the bath-house (period
3) excavated in 2007. This newly discovered building, possibly a bath-house,
though a nymphaeum, temple or shrine are other possibilities, measured
approximately 13m square and appears to have incorporated the south and
west walls of its predecessor. The internal layout remains somewhat
uncertain though it included at least two tanks or baths and one of the rooms
contained a mosaic of which small areas of white tesserae survived. Much of
the painted wall plaster recovered from the various demolition deposits may
also derive from the period 2 building. At the south-east corner was the base
of a large ‘platform’ or tower, possibly the base for a water tank, but there
appears to have been no other structures further to the south on the terrace.
Such a tank may have acted as a reservoir for water piped or carried by
launder from a spring higher up the slope, and then released when required
for use in building 2.

7.2.4 The size and extent of the construction terrace for the buildings can now be
explained, for it extended further west into the hill slope than previously
realised, thus providing more fill material. The western extent of the terrace
allowed space to create the entrance ‘forecourt’ arrangements to the period 1,
2 and 3 buildings, presumably linked by paths and / or steps to the villa site.
The extent of this ‘forecourt’ area (which lies partly outside the site boundary)
has subsequently been almost totally obscured by slope wash / colluvium.
Down-slope of building 2, water from the drains may have been channelled
via terraces and water features into the stream below.

7.2.5 The reason the period 2 building was abandoned and levelled is unclear for
no evidence for subsidence was apparent. The precise dating for its
construction and demolition also remain uncertain, largely because of a
paucity of pottery and other datable finds, though construction in the mid 2nd
and demolition in the late 2nd / early 3rd century might be provisionally
suggested.

Period 3

7.2.6 An important realisation in 2009 was that what has been previously assumed
to be the front (east side, facing down slope) of the period 3 bath-house was
in fact the back, and the back (west side, facing up slope where the villa was
located) was the front. This has important implications as it now almost
certainly links the use of the bath-house to the villa, and has also led to a
reconsideration of the layout and function of the rooms within the bath-house.
The entrance is now seen to have been on the west side, with the so-called
‘entrance corridor’ a later development (related to the operation of the period
4 crop-dryer), and the apodyterium possibly divided into an entrance area or
‘vestibule’ to the south and a changing area to the north. More importantly,
what previously was understood to be the caldarium can now be interpreted
as the tepidarium, and vice versa. This reversal of use solves the problem of
the ‘missing’ furnace, for the annexe to the smaller room, now the caldarium,

15
would have housed the furnace, the flue arch having been destroyed and the
doorway to the exterior disturbed, probably during antiquarian investigations.
Whether the phase 1 frigidarium / cold bath 1 was dismantled or demolished
before the bath-house ceased operation is unclear, though possibly not as a
large part of the roof structure (with re-usable stone tiles and tufa blocks)
appears to have been left to collapse into the cold bath / plunge pool. This
was, however, sealed by spreads of period 4 crop drying debris, showing that
demolition / collapse of this room had taken place by this time.

7.2.7 As a result of this revised understanding of the bath-house it is considered


unlikely that further excavation will be necessary to understand this part of the
structural sequence. A construction date in the late 2nd or early 3rd century can
be suggested, with demolition in the late 3rd or early 4th century, broadly as
suggested in 2007-8.

Period 4

7.2.8 Excavations in 2009 have clarified further the layout and date of the period 4
crop-dryer. These have revealed a typical T-shaped arrangement of Roman
date, but with the stoke-hole and flue to the west, not the east as previously
thought. Pottery from the crop-dryer confirms a likely 4th century date, and a
post-Roman use can now be ruled-out. No further work is considered
necessary on this crop-dryer.

7.3 Finds

7.3.1 The wall plaster has been cleaned and dried, and the other finds processed. It
is envisaged that the remaining recording will be undertaken within the next
six months. Subsequent assessment and analysis will be integrated into the
post-excavation programme following the proposed two further seasons of
fieldwork in 2009 - 10. External specialist input is likely to be required to
contribute to the publication of the important assemblage of painted wall
plaster.

7.4 Environmental remains

7.4.1 The single bulk sample has yet to be processed, but it is envisaged that this
will be undertaken within the next six months. The charred plant remains and
charcoal assemblages will then be rapidly assessed to determine whether
they are similar to the previously analysed crop drying debris. Any
subsequent analysis of this and the samples taken in 2008 will be integrated
into the post-excavation programme following the proposed two further
seasons of fieldwork in 2009 - 10.

7.5 Outreach

7.5.1 Following the success of the outreach programme in 2007, 2008 and 2009,
which resulted in all of the excavation aims being achieved and in many
cases exceeded, it is clear that work during further seasons may be
undertaken on the same basis, involving volunteers drawn from a variety of
sources.

7.5.2 The community nature of this project also provides an ideal opportunity to
examine and record any surviving artefacts in museum collections (eg
Devizes Museum) from the Truckle Hill villa, presumed to be the parent site of

16
the earlier buildings as well as the bath-house. This may provide evidence for
connections between these two sites, refining the chronology, sequence of
development and range / nature of the activities at both sites. With a small
team of volunteers, recording to assessment level could be rapidly achieved
with minimum specialist input, and the results included in the final publication.

7.6 Publication

7.6.1 In 2012, a post-excavation programme is proposed which will bring together


the results of the 2010-11 investigations, integrate them with the results of
the 2007-9 investigations, re-examine the evidence from the 19th excavations
of the Truckle Hill (North Wraxall) villa, and place the whole in its context of
Late Iron Age and Romano-British settlement in this part of the Wiltshire
Cotswolds. It is anticipated that the results will be more than sufficient to
justify publication of a medium-length (approximately 40 pages) article in the
county journal. It is also anticipated that the results will be disseminated via
more ‘popular’ publications, both printed and web-based.

7.7 Archive

7.7.1 The complete site archive (Table 1) from the 2009 excavation, which will
include paper and digital records, photographic records, graphics, artefacts
and ecofacts, will be prepared following the standard conditions for the
acceptance of excavated archaeological material by Devizes Museum, and in
general following nationally recommended guidelines (SMA 1993; Museums
and Galleries Commission 1994). It will eventually form part of the
consolidated archive for the entire Truckle Hill project which will be deposited
at either Devizes Museum or Chippenham Museum.

Table 1. Site Archive

WA Project Code File No. Details No. of sheets Format


58523 1 Index to archive 1 A4
58523 1 Copy of interim 27 A4
report
58523 1 Context index 3 A4
58523 1 Graphics register 2 A4
58523 1 Sample index 1 A4
58523 1 Photo registers XX A4
58523 1 Survey records 6 A4
58523 1 Context sheets 58 A4
58523 1 Context finds XX A4
records
58523 Roll of drawings Graphics 1 A1
58523 1 Graphics 15 A3
58523 1 Graphics 7 A4
58523 1 Sample records 1 A4
58523 - B & W negs and Approx XX / 35mm
contact sheets XX sheets
58523 - Digital photographs Approx XX CD
58523 - Finds boxes - X boxes

7.7.2 The site archive from the 2009 excavation is currently held at the offices of
Wessex Archaeology under the reference number 58523.

17
8 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Andrews, P., 2009 ‘The discovery, excavation and preservation of a detached


Roman bath-house at Truckle Hill, North Wraxall’, Wilts. Archaeol. Nat. Hist.
Mag., 102, 129-49

Archaeological Surveys Ltd 2008 Truckle Hill Roman Villa, North Wraxall, Wiltshire:
Magnetometry and Earth Resistance Survey, unpublished report 226

Davey, N. and Ling, R., 1982 Wall-Painting in Roman Britain, Britannia Monograph 3

Linford, P. and Payne, A., 2005 Truckle Hill Roman Building, North Wraxall,
Wiltshire: Report on geophysical survey, English Heritage

Museums and Galleries Commission 1994 Standards in the museum care of


archaeological collections, London, Museums and Galleries Commission

Scott, E., 1994 A Gazetteer of Roman Villas in Britain, Leicester Univ. Archaeol.
Monog. 1

Society of Museum Archaeologists [SMA] 1993 Selection, Retention and Dispersal


of Archaeological Collections: guidelines for use in England, Wales and
Northern Ireland

Stevens, C.J., ‘Environmental remains’, in Andrews 2009, 142-4

WAM [Wiltshire Archaeology and Natural History Magazine] 1862, 7, 59-74

Wessex Archaeology 2005 Truckle Hill Roman Building, North Wraxall, Wiltshire:
Rapid Building Recording , unpublished report 58520.01

Wessex Archaeology 2007 [August] Truckle Hill Roman Building, North Wraxall,
Wiltshire: Project design for an Archaeological Research and Outreach
Programme (ref. T10098.003)

Wessex Archaeology 2009 Further work on a detached Roman bath-house and


earlier building at Truckle Hill, North Wraxall, Wiltshire: Interim report on the
2008 archaeological excavation and outreach programme , unpublished
report 58522.01

18
APPENDIX 1: Context Summary

Context Description Interpretation (Trench)


35 Wall Period 2 building – north-south wall on E side (= 39) (P)
36 Wall Period 2 building – east-west wall on S side(P)
37 Masonry Period 2 building – masonry ‘platform’ / base (P)
38 Wall Period 2 building – east-west wall (internal) (Q)
39 Wall Period 2 building – north-south wall on E side (= 35) (Q)
40 Wall Period 2 building – east-west wall / buttress on E side(Q)
41 Wall Period 4 crop-dryer – east-west wall on S side of flue (R)
42 Wall Period 4 crop-dryer – east-west wall below S side of chamber (R)
43 Wall Period 4 crop-dryer – north-south wall below N side of chamber (R)
44 Wall Period 2 building – east-west wall on N side (S, V)
45 Wall Period 1 building – east-west wall on S side (= 32) (T)
46 Wall Period 1 building – east-west wall on N side (K)
47 Wall Period 4 crop-dryer – east-west wall on N side of flue (R)
48 Wall Period 2 building – north-south wall (internal) (S, W)
49 Wall Period 2 building – east-west wall (internal) (W)
50 Structure Group no assigned to Period 4 crop-dryer (R)

300 Surface Mortar surface / make-up deposit (P)


301 Surface Mortar surface / make-up deposit (P)
302 Layer Demolition / foundation deposit (P)
303 Layer Demolition / collapse deposit (P)
304 Layer Demolition deposit (P)
305 Layer Demolition deposit (P)
306 Layer Colluvial / abandonment deposit (P)
307 Layer Demolition deposit (P)
308 Layer Demolition / collapse deposit (P)
309 Layer Demolition / collapse deposit (P)
310 Layer Demolition / foundation deposit (Q)
311 Layer Demolition / foundation deposit (Q)
312 Layer Construction layer (Q)
313 Layer ?Construction layer (Q)
314 Layer Foundation layer (Q)
315 Layer Foundation layer (Q)
316 Layer Op sig lining in bath / tank (Q)
317 Layer Colluvial deposit (P)
318 Layer Fill of hollow (Q)
319 Layer Subsoil (P)
320 Layer Demolition / collapse deposit (Q)
321 Layer Demolition / collapse deposit (Q)
322 Layer Demolition / foundation deposit (Q)
323 Layer Collapse / infill layer in crop-dryer (R)
324 Layer Charred grain / fuel layer in crop-dryer (R)
325 Floor Mortar surface with patches of plain, white mosaic surviving(R)
326 Layer Colluvium / subsoil (T)
327 Layer Demolition deposit (T)
328 Layer Demolition deposit (T)
329 Layer ?colluvial deposit (T)
330 Layer Demolition / foundation deposit (U)
331 Surface Small remnant of roughly paved surface (P)
332 Layer Make-up layer (P)
333 Layer Infill / levelling deposit (S)
334 Layer Mortar bedding for floor (S)

19
Context Description Interpretation (Trench)
335 Layer Demolition deposit (K)
336 Layer Foundation / consolidation deposit (W)
337 Layer Foundation / consolidation deposit (W)
338 Layer Foundation / consolidation deposit (W)
339 Layer Foundation / consolidation deposit (W)
340 Layer Sequence of demolition deposits (X)
341 Layer Foundation / consolidation deposit (V)

20
Area of 2009 excavation

Previously excavated bath-house


D Doorway

Cold bath 2

9
12
2 Cold bath 1
Terrace cut 151 18
13
3
v Frigidarium Steps
11 (cold room)
17

Apodyterium
S (changing room)
4 D
10 176240
W

5
Q
Back
16 R
Vestibule
R
7 D
Front D
(fur
Pra ace ro
n
efu 22
Entrance D
rniu m)

15
m
o

14

Tepidarium D Caldarium 21
(warm room) (hot room)

20
P

19 U
176230

0 5m
383700

383710

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Plan of bath-house (period 3 - revised interpretation) and 2009 excavation trenches (P-X) Figure 2
Period 1 building

Period 2 building

Previously excavated bath-house


W Window opening

44 39

44
Drain

48 Bath
176240
39
38
49 Drain

Surviving
mosaic Bath
(325)

Buttress
40
Entrance

Column
34 base

Forecourt
35
36
46 48

W Platform
Painted plaster
(and mosaic) 37
32
30
W
176230

31
45

0 5m
383700

383710

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Date: 12/01/10 Revision Number: 0

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Plan showing details and projected extent of pre-bath-house buildings (periods 1 & 2) Figure 3
Period 4 Crop dryer

Crop drying debris

Previously excavated bath-house


D Doorway

Crop dryer 50
176240
6
Rear access
C to chamber
47
43
F
C = Chamber C
41 42
S
F = Flue
8
S = Stoke-hole
D
= Heavy burning

176230

0 5m
383700

383710

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Date: 12/01/10 Revision Number: 0

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Plan showing crop dryer 50 (period 4) within period 3 bath-house, Figure 4


and approximate extent of associated crop drying debris
Plate 1: Period 1 building (Trench K): north-west corner - walls 30 and 46 Plate 2: Period 1 building (Trench K): column base 34 Plate 3: Period 1 building (Trench U): second window opening in wall 32,
(scale = 1m; view from north) (scale = 1m; view from south-east) adjacent to period 3 bath-house wall 20 (scale = 1m; view from
east)

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Plates 1-3
Plate 4: Period 1 and 2 buildings (Trench P): south-east corner, showing walls 35 and 36 ‘clasping’ earlier Plate 5: Period 2 building (Trench P): ‘platform 37’ (scale = 2m; view from south-east)
wall 32 (to left), overlain by period 3 bath-house walls 21 / 22 (scale = 1m; view from east)

Plate 6: Period 2 building (Trench Q): wall 39 and associated baths/tanks (note blocked tile-lined drain),
overlain by period 3 bath-house walls 10 and 7/22; wall 40 in background (scale = 1m; view from
north-east

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Plates 5-6
Plate 7: Period 2 building (Trench V): wall 44, overlain by period 3 Plate 8: Period 2 building (Trench W): wall 49, overlain by ‘layered’ Plate 9: Period 4 crop-dryer 50 (Trench R: the hearth in the flue lies in
bath-house wall 3 to the left; period 3 bath-house wall 17 to the foundations for period 3 bath-house wall 5 to the left; wall 48 the foreground, with remnants of period 2 mosaic floor and
right (scale = 1m; view from south-west) overlain by period 3 bath-house wall 16 to the right (scale = 1m; associated mortar bedding (325) surviving in the base of the
view from north-east) stoke-hole, flue and chamber (scale = 1m; view from west)

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Plates 7-9
Trowbridge Young Archaeologists Club site visit

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