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Site B - Summary of excavation results

Summary | Period 0-1 | Period 2 | Period 3 | Period 4-5

The following is a summary of the results of the excavations on Site B (the south-west corner of the Saxon defences) arranged by periods.

Period 0

Pre-bank activity: no positive or negative evidence relating to activity before the construction of the bank was obtained in the 1975 excavations, apart from the presence of spade marks in the remaining subsoil where turves had been stripped for inclusion in the bank.

Period 1

This period is marked by the construction of the following elements of the defensive system of the fortress:

  1. A bank of dump construction made for the most part of clay, with the front and rear revetments built of stacked turf without a fronting wooden palisade. The turf would have been stripped from the area of the bank, berms and ditches; and the clay derived from the excavation of the ditches;
  2. Three ditches, separated from the bank and each other by berms, the outer one rather wider than the inner two. These were recut on a number of occasions, but must originally have been around 1-1.3m in depth. The inner and central ditches would have been about 2m in width, the outer one 10.5m in width;
  3. A walkway or street (intra-mural walkway or wall street) about 1.2m in width laid out around the inner edge of the bank, made of flat stones set directly on the original turf. This was probably the first feature in the defensive system to have been constructed;
  4. A simple wooden turret at the internal corner of the bank, possibly allied with a palisade built along the top of the bank.

(Probably late 9th century - c. 878-9).

Period 2A

This period is represented by a general strengthening of the defences, which involved:

  1. the replacement of the front turf revetment by a substantial partially mortared stone wall, originally about 1.2m wide at its lowest level. Its lowest course at the front, which formed a plinth, was built into a shallow trench, probably to stabilise its weight. Construction deposits were spread over the berm between the wall and the inner ditch, though these might also in part represent the upcast from the cleaning out of the ditches;
  2. the cleaning out of the two inner ditches;
  3. the probable heightening of the bank;
  4. the construction of a small stone wall part way up the tail of the bank (inferred from its destruction deposits at the rear of the bank), possibly to revet a wall walk or platform at the top of the bank.

(Since this must have occurred before the front turf revetment had had time to collapse, this can best be placed in the early 10th century - 904-911).

Period 2B

The elapse of a long period, marked by:

  1. the accumulation of weathering products on the berm;
  2. the partial or nearly complete silting of the ditches, together with the erosion of their edges;
  3. the disuse of the intra-mural walkway, marked by the deposition of soil and small stones over its surface;
  4. the collapse of some of the stones of the rear revetment wall down the back of the bank onto and beyond the intra-mural walkway.

(Second to fourth quarter of the 10th century).

Period 2C

A partial refurbishment of the defensive system, with its stone wall still largely intact, which involved the re-excavation of the inner ditches.

(Early 11th century).

Period 3A

This period is marked by a dramatic episode which appears to have amounted to the systematic destruction of the defensive capability of the fortifications, which involved:

  1. the near total demolition of the wall fronting the bank, with the destruction debris being piled onto the inner berm;
  2. the deliberate filling of the two inner ditches with stones, some of them of considerable size - showing that these were not the rejects from an episode of robbing of the wall;
  3. the destruction of the stone wall at the back of the bank, with the stones being forcibly thrown over a wide area at the back of the bank.

(Early 11th century - c. 1016).

Period 3B

The erosion and degradation of the remaining bank and debris on the berm over a long period, and the silting of what remained of the ditches.

(Early 11th-mid 12th centuries).

Period 4A

The redefence of the town, which involved the construction of the following elements:

  1. a substantial wooden palisade, placed along the line of the former wall;
  2. a wide shallow ditch, on the W side some way out from the palisade, on the S side quite close to it;
  3. the re-excavation of the inner ditch on the W side;
  4. the excavation of a substantial ditch on the inside of the southern part of the Saxon bank (trench 1 only).

(Probably mid 12th century - c. 1144).

The ditches were then allowed to fill up over an appreciable period.

Period 4B

At least one episode of refurbishment of the defences, involving the replacement of the front palisade and the partial re-excavation of the ditches.

(Period unknown).

Period 5

A long period represented by the abandonment and decay of the defences of period 4B, with further erosion of the bank partly caused by cultivation, and the use of the W bank as a ridge in a ridge and furrow system.

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Last updated: Mon Jul 7 2003