Period 2: Overview

Proximity strongly suggests our three Period 2 buildings are connected to each other and, indeed, belong to the same property. A line of post-holes on the northern side runs more or less parallel with Early Roman Timber Building 2, turning northwards to accommodate Early Roman Timber Building 1 and meet the east-west street. South-west of Early Roman Timber Building 3 there are no further traces of buildings within the excavation area.

Presence of the tiled hearth in the larger space (Room 1) of Early Roman Timber Building 1 seems to set it apart functionally from its larger neighbour although there is evidence for an associated residential function in the form of the small, attached Room 2 with its floor of opus signinum. The northern half of Early Roman Timber Building 2 is better preserved than the southern half, but the totality of the evidence suggests a building whose principal function was residential, perhaps accommodating two families sharing the slightly larger central room. It is not absolutely certain that Room 6 was built de novo with blocks of stone built into its foundations, or that these were part of a rebuilding, but the incorporation of this material sets the room apart from all the others. The material is clearly derived from a major private or public building within the town, but the manner of its use in Room 6 does not suggest it served a functional purpose (other than substituting for wooden sill beams) or that it would have been visible. The somewhat uneven distribution of the material in its clay setting rather argues against it supporting a superstructure in any material other than wood.

Adjacent to Room 6 is the circular, Early Roman Timber Building 3, whose construction impinges so closely on the end room of Early Roman Timber Building 2 that it is likely that Room 7 was abandoned. Although some evidence of its structural character has emerged, the most striking feature of this building is the central hearth and the associated ritual in the form of the burials of a human neonate and cremated caprines, as well as placed pottery vessels. It is possible that the whole building was incorporated within a rectangular, timber-framed structure, fronted by a colonnade on the south-east-facing side. Acting as post pads are more blocks of the same reused limestone as found in Room 6 and derived from a major building within the town. Whatever evidence there might have been for an encapsulating timber building has been destroyed by the walls of the Period 3 Early Roman Masonry Building 2. However, the two complete pots which were found, apparently in the north-east and south-west corners of the rectangular building, would have been perhaps 50 to 100 years old if they were indeed buried at the time of the construction of the masonry house. Their date fits better with that envisaged for Early Roman Timber Building 3. Whether the circular building was domestic or religious in function - or both - is hard to determine. Certainly the incidence of 'ritual' characteristics is higher than in either Early Roman Timber Buildings 1 and 2, both of which also have evidence of placed deposits of animal bone.


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Last updated: Wed Sept 12 2007