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Road 2 - Period 3

While more excavation took place on Road 2 than on Road 1 in Excavation Area I (Figure 58, Figure 69, Figure 70), there is no greater certainty over dating any of the surfacing episodes revealed. All are treated as part of Period 3, but are not sub-phased. As well as use accumulations on the road surfaces, deposits immediately alongside that are interpreted as comprising material washed off the road are included here as they seem to have relatively little relevance to occupation activity within the various open areas.

Investigation was small-scale and intermittent along the exposed extent of Road 2, primarily at its junctions with Roads 3 and 4, but also at a couple of locations in between. The following descriptions are ordered from north to south along the road.

Period 3A summary view | Period 3B summary view | Open areas (lower terrace) | Open areas (upper terrace)

Road 1, 2 and 4 Junction: Group 382 (5826)

Only the west edge of the Road 1/Road 4 junction was investigated within a narrow area that was primarily intended to explore the OA18 road frontage (in Excavation Area I). While the results may be pertinent to this major junction between Roads 1, 2 and 4, it is perhaps best viewed as a primarily Road 2 sequence, being positioned across its northernmost extent. Gravel layer 5826 (Group 382) is the earliest road surface revealed at this location. The road edge at this point is not marked by a ditch or gully, and tends to merge with the adjacent surface (5786 Group 102 Period 2B), extending westwards into Open Area 18. The cambering of the road is illustrated well here; with a width of some 8m, it displays a 0.15-0.20m fall from centre to edge. This road surface cannot be closely dated as overlying deposits are mid-2nd century AD. Its identification as a LIA-early Roman transition feature largely relies upon its evidently close association with the mid-1st century gravel surface of the OA18 interior.

Middle of Road 2: Group 365 (contexts 5845, 5861, 5894, 5914, 5971, 13063, 18607) and Groups 369, 636, 646

Where investigated further to the south of the Road 1/2/4 junction, the earliest metalling (5861) can be dated no closer than mid-1st to early 2nd century AD. It is overlain by wear disturbance 5894 and then by early 2nd century silt 5914 - a presumed use or road-wash accumulation. The next surface up, 5845, may also belong in Period 3, although it could also be as late as mid-3rd century (i.e. Period 4). It is bedded on sand and gravel layer 5971, which overlies two deposits of silty wash from the earlier surface, although these in turn overlay not road surface but 18834 (Group 102) - part of the wider interior surface of OA18 laid in Period 2. Certainly, some of the silty road-wash build-ups can be dated to the early Roman period (e.g. 5852, 5914, and probably 5934) and more may be assumed to be of this date too (e.g. 5883 Group 369 and 5852 Group 636 which overlies OA18 interior surface 5941).

13063, one of the best of the recorded Road 2 surface layers, may also belong in Period 3. It includes a surprising number of small metal objects (penannular brooch SF5094), trumpet brooch SF5292, cosmetic tools and nails) apparently compacted into the surface itself. The penannular brooch dates no later than the end of the 1st century AD, while the trumpet brooch is assigned a mid to late 2nd century AD date. This later date for their deposition is supported by the samian from the context.

Elsewhere along the OA18 road frontage (in Excavation Area I), various fragments of surfaces and road-wash accumulations are noted, though were not extensively explored. Silt 5883 (Group 369) could perhaps represent road-wash and accumulation on the edge of Road 2 during this period - which continues here throughout the Roman Period (e.g. Period 6 deposits 5852 and 5839, Group 646). Sandy gravel deposits 5852, 5934 (Group 636) also seem to represent road-wash and accumulation on the edge of Road 2 broadly during this period (though admittedly possibly continuing as late as Period 4). As such, they are probably similar to silt 5883 (Group 369). There are also many road layers in this vicinity which simply cannot be assigned any date closer than general Roman with much certainty.

South end of Road 2: Groups 366 (18607, 18328), Group 367 (18326, 18327) and Group 368 (18325)

The southernmost excavated sequence through Road 2 is perhaps the most informative. Metalled surface 18607 (Group 366) directly overlies both the earliest Period 2B road surface and also the edge of the occupation surface within OA18 (5935 Group 102 Period 2B). It survives to an apparent total width of just over 5m, rising up at its south-east side where it presumably merges with Road 3. A thin layer of silt (18328) accumulates on its surface prior to its replacement by a new road surface (Group 367).

The preparation for the overlying, second Period 3, road surface 18326 - substantial bedding/levelling deposit 18327 - is noteworthy because its particular thickness at the north-west side of the road suggests that it is deliberately laid in order to bring the road level up to that of the raised surface of the OA18 interior brought about by the Period 3B dumping episode (see Central zone, Open Area 18, western sub-plot). The precise relationship between dumps and bedding/levelling layer is not established, but Period 3B post-hole 18301 (Group 614) certainly cuts the latter. This later road surface 18326 appears to be laid in a slight cut within its bedding/levelling layer and survives to a width of 4.3m. It too is overlain by a thick silt build-up (18325 Group 368) that must represent use-accumulation. Unfortunately, this build-up was removed by machine and no artefactual material collected from which either date or nature can be inferred. Its Period 3 origin can only be assumed.

It is thus posited that Road 2 surface 18326 is probably 2nd century and contemporary with Period 3B occupation of OA18, while earlier surface 18328 and its overlying silt accumulation can almost certainly be no later than Period 3A. While the details may not be totally secure, it is nevertheless clear that the road continued to be used and maintained throughout this period. It is also noticeable that significant silty deposits accumulated alongside and upon them here, which does not generally seem to be the case in other areas until later.

Road 2 and 3 Junction: Group 370 (4863, 14049) and Group 371 (4862, 14048)

Early Roman gravel layer 4862/14048 (Group 371) on make-up 4863/14049 (Group 370) is the latest surviving road deposit investigated at the junction between Roads 2 and 3. The coin from 4863 (SF4160), probably deposited in the mid-2nd century AD, provides the best dating evidence. The pottery is of only broad Roman date.

Compact gravel surface 4862 overlies a loose sandy gravel foundation deposit 4863, surviving either side of Period 2B protruding surface 4900 (Group 99) which marks the centre of the slightly cambered road. Neither make-up nor road surface is traced across the full width of the road junction, though it is likely that these deposits do extend the full width of the road. At this point the road is probably some 11m wide - possibly more if likely machine truncation of the south edge is taken into account. This might suggest that its south-westward continuation, beyond the limit of excavation, is similarly broad - perhaps because this is the main street of the settlement.


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