We have described here the sequence of buildings on a single plot in the north-east of Insula IX between the late 1st and the mid-3rd century AD. The earliest buildings were of timber: a row-house associated at one end with a circular building, possibly encapsulated within a further, rectangular structure, and a kitchen or service building at the other end. All buildings were on a north-east/south-west alignment, ignoring the orientation of the Roman street grid. Votive deposits of articulated or cremated animal bone, pottery vessels and metalwork, perhaps associated with foundation rituals, have been identified in all three buildings, but with a particular concentration in the circular building. The foundations of one room of the central building incorporated architectural fragments of Bath limestone presumably taken from the remains of a major building located elsewhere in the town.

Contemporary occupation material was only certainly found in association with the ‘service’ Building 1. In comparison with material from London of similar date, the Insula IX finds assemblage is not indicative of particularly high status. However, the lack of comparative material, either from Silchester itself, or from other south-eastern towns makes it difficult to interpret the assemblage in the local context. This is reflected in the animal bone as well which shows marked differences with the London assemblage in terms of the ratios of the three main domesticates.

In the early-to-mid 2nd century these timber buildings were replaced on the same orientation by two masonry houses, one rectangular and of familiar ‘row’ design, the other square in plan, and each with three ‘reception’ rooms. An enlarged service building of timber construction was retained at the north-east end. Foundation deposits of pottery vessels and metalwork were associated with two of the buildings, while deposits of animal bone, notably of dog and probably originally articulated, were particularly associated with the timber building (4), but also, possibly, with the adjacent ERMB 1. Metalworking of copper alloy and iron is associated with ERMB 1.

The final phase from around the turn of the 2nd and 3rd centuries saw a single masonry building constructed on the footprint of the two small town houses, thus perpetuating the orientation established certainly by our Period 2, if not earlier. One end of the building was devoted to metalworking, the central pair of rooms may have retained a residential function from ERMB 1, while the large room at the south-west end was of uncertain purpose. There is, perhaps, one foundation deposit, the part-skeleton of a sheep, to be associated with this building.

While the sequence reveals continuity of occupation of the same plot for about 175 years, it is not possible to claim continuity of ownership. If it is attractive to see the symmetry of the arrangements of room of the Period 2 row-house reflecting occupation by two branches of the same family, which in Period 3 diverged further into occupation in two separate houses, then re-uniting in Period 4, there is no independent evidence with which to verify this hypothesis.

The excavation of the Period 1, pre-Flavian occupation continues. While there are clear signs of underlying building(s), it is not yet evident whether their footprint(s) reflect the plan and orientation of our Period 2-4 buildings.


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Last updated: Wed Sept 12 2007