With the imposition of the road infrastructure, Open Area 18 is established on the inside curve described by the course of Roads 1 and 2 (i.e. to their west). Although these southern and eastern boundaries are new, there is a slight suggestion that a northern boundary might perpetuate the line of ditches 25121/25250 and 25224 that formerly ran alongside the south of Period 2A trackway OA5.
The interior of the enclosure is surfaced with gravel soon after the creation of the roads, perhaps as part of the same episode of settlement redevelopment. Thereafter, this surface is occupied by a number of circular buildings and associated structures that evidence at least two phases of clustered construction, or else a general continuum of short-lived structures at this location. A total of ten buildings, or parts of them, can be identified with varying degrees of certainty (Figure 36). Buildings 17-21 demonstrate clear plans, while Buildings 22-26 are more tentative reconstructions. Almost all are circular stake- or post-built structures and of broadly similar size; radii lie in the range of c. 2.25-3.75m. Building plans intersect, but stratigraphic relationships that allow relative sequencing to be discerned are absent. Associated Structures 11-16 are also identified.
The lack of investigation over much of the OA18 interior should be noted, with excavation being limited to the roadsides and part of its south. To what extent this accurately reflects the nature of occupation within this enclosure is unclear, though a northward decrease in feature density may be discerned.
An extensive, 0.10m thick, surface of graded, compacted gravel is laid across much of the OA18 interior, diminishing northwards to a line that seems to reflect where the underlying natural sands and gravels give way to brickearth. The surfacing runs up to (and in some cases under) the adjacent roads and is subsequently overlain by the Period 3 resurfacing of Road 2 (18607 Group 366). The use of the earliest phase of Road 2 and the interior surface of OA18 are clearly contemporary.
The surface displays slight and subtle wear patterns, interpreted as 'foot traffic', as well as disturbance by later wheel ruts. Overall, it survives in good condition, being kept clean and seemingly needing no significant repair throughout its life. Near the Road 2/3 junction, however, the Open Area 18 surface is cut by a length of narrow gully or slot (25261 Group 103), which incorporates a number of post- and stake-holes along its length and is likely to represent the position of a boundary fence alongside the road. Although similar in nature, the function of road and interior surfacing is clearly separate.
Only a small part of the OA18 surfacing deposits are investigated within Excavation Area I and few artefacts recovered from them, though the paucity of finds does also seem to reflect the character of the materials used; primarily clean graded gravels. Animal bone is present in a few of its recorded parts, but pottery is rare. A brooch (SF6478) and two late Roman coins, collected from surface 5935, suggest that any intrusive material that works its way into this layer does not do so until late in the life of the settlement when this surface is no longer in use. A second brooch (SF7279) comes from deposit 18839. The majority of incorporated finds suggest a broad Late Iron Age or early Roman date and a mid-1st century AD date for the laying of the OA18 surface seems most likely. The surface overlies Period 2A pit 21050.
Building 17 is defined by a ring of post-holes (13683, 13689, 13698, 13700, 13710, 13854) incorporating a short length of foundation slot 13733 along its south-western perimeter. A very short slot (13731) is also present on the opposite side. An outer ring of stake-holes is also evident, particularly immediately alongside the slot foundation. Post-hole 13854 possibly indicates the presence of a centre post. The building has a radius of c. 2.6m. The fills of its component features contain both LIA and Romanising pottery; the North Gaulish beaker recovered from post-hole 13854 dates to the first half of the 1st century AD. The remaining pottery is consistent with a mid-1st century AD date.
Building 18 is defined by an arc of 17 large, closely spaced stake-holes (13902-4, 13918-44, 18006-10, 18066, 18391), but only about one-third of the building is traceable within the investigated area. A small number of similarly sized stake-holes within its interior may indicate internal supports or structure. An estimated 2.8m radius can be suggested. The fills of its component features contain mid-1st century AD pottery.
Building 19 comprises a ring of fairly regularly spaced stake-holes, with a possible entrance on its south side. Internal stake- and post-holes may represent internal supports. A c. 2.3m radius is indicated. There are no finds in its component features.
Building 20 is also marked by a ring of stake-holes, with further stake-holes suggesting internal structures. Less than half of the building plan was recovered, but an estimated 2.75m radius can be suggested. A single sherd of black-surfaced ware jar, dating to the second half of the 1st century AD is present in post-hole 18068. This may be the least convincing of these buildings.
Building 21 is manifest as curving foundation slot 18048, which ends in post-hole 18058. Two additional stake-holes, 18126 and 18128, are tentatively associated. A c. 2.9m radius is likely. The slot contains pottery of the second half of the 1st century AD.
Building 22 is defined by four similarly sized, small, post-holes (13910, 13912, 18052, 18167), which were set apart from the other structures, near ditch 25102, which could perhaps be construed to curve around it. Larger post-hole 18054 may represent the position of an internal roof support, but could be unassociated. The estimated radius of the building is 3.3m. The fills of component features include animal bone fragments and a single sherd of Roman black-surfaced ware pottery, which cannot be closely dated. Only half of the estimated extent of this building lies within the excavated area.
Circular Building 23 is tentatively suggested on the evidence of an arcing arrangement of widely spaced stake-holes (18411-17, 18524-32), with a radius of c. 3.75m. Post-holes 13167 and 13637 may indicate the position of a doorway at its south-east. A small amount of Romanising pottery and human infant remains are present in the fill of possible doorway post-hole 13637.
Building 24 is represented by an intermittent arc of stake-holes (18542-6, 18552, 18556-70) that define its southern part. Approximately half of the building is traceable and a c. 2.45m radius is suggested. A number of similar internal stake-holes may define an inner ring. The component features contain no artefacts.
Building 25 is formed by the very tentative association of four stake-holes (18419, 18536, 18548, 18550) that are not interpreted as forming part of Buildings 21, 23 and 24. These define a c. 2.9m radius. There are no finds.
Building 26 is construed from a ring of stake-holes (13178, 18450-4, 18460, 18468, 18510, 18516) that lie to the north-east of Building 17. Further stake-holes 18456 and 18514 could perhaps denote an outer ring. A c. 2.0-2.5m radius is suggested. There are no finds.
An arrangement of five, relatively large, post-holes (13908, 13914, 13916, 18046, 18050) stand out as the only structural features between Buildings 21 and 22 and form the most convincing of the non-roundhouse structures. All are vertical sided with flat bottoms and depths between 0.16m and 0.25m - relatively deep for such features of this date and in this location. As interpreted, they form a small triangle, perhaps some sort of rack, although they might just be the remains of a dividing fence between Buildings 21 and 22. Their fills contain small quantities of animal bone fragments only.
A line of five uniform and evenly spaced stake-holes (18094, 18096, 18098, 18104, 18108) run NE-SW for just 2m, in the space between Buildings 19 and 20. They presumably denote a fenced partition between the two buildings, perhaps hinting that they are contemporary.
A possible right-angled line of stake- and post-holes (18343, 18344, 18345, 18340, 18389, 18341, 5988) are located to the east of Building 17 and may provide evidence for another triangular drying rack, similar to that of Structure 11 or else a screen of some sort.
A line of post-holes (18397, 18178, ?18148, 13984, 13982, 13980, 13976, 18373, 18142), some 10m long, denotes a probable north-south fenceline immediately to the east of Building 19. It may be pertinent that no further building is identified on its opposite side.
A tentative right-angled post-hole alignment (18043, 13970, 13966, 13960, 13580, 13990, 13986, ?18140) lies to the south-east of Building 19.
A right-angled line of stake-holes (18072, 18074, 18076, 18078, 18080, 18082, 18084, 18086, 18088, 18090) lies within 'within' Building 20. While this could represent an internal partition of the building, it is as likely to be unassociated.
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