2.6 Period 6: A period of large-scale dumping

2.6.1 Period 6: Phase 1 (Figs.6f, 20 and 21)

Considerable quantities of material were dumped to the south of Building A. They sealed the Phase 4.1 features, including the path and the east-west ditch, and extended right up to the walls of Buildings A and B. This material extended 30.0m to the south, and was observed across the full width of Trench 1. It was 150mm thick overall, and tapered out to the north and south (1274). Limited excavation at the junction of Trenches 1 and 2 showed that this material consisted of many smaller dumps which varied widely in character, from clay loam to sand (10, 84, 96, 175, 2024, 2027, 2042, 2044-5, 2055, 2067, 2079 and 2125). The pottery, charcoal and shell contents were high throughout, and the upper deposits also contained concentrations of stone, tile, mortar and opus signinum. A layer of dark loam, sealing gravel surface 278, was found at the north end of Trench I. It contained pottery, bone and limestone (77). This deposit was probably the western continuation of the dumps observed in Trench 1.

These deposits seem to represent intensive waste disposal, although building debris was also disposed of here, perhaps to create a solid ground surface over the waste dumps. It is unlikely that such a large quantity of material was derived solely from the occupation and subsequent demolition of the roadside structures represented by Buildings A and B . More probably, it is derived from within the walled settlement, in which case it is difficult to see how the roadside buildings could have remained in use whilst such activity was taking place around them.

The evidence of the pottery indicates that this activity occurred in the late 3rd and early 4th centuries, although some post-medieval pottery was present. Coins of Elagabalus (76), minted c.218-22, and Edward I/II (77), minted c.1301 or later, were recovered from 84. In addition, a small amount of medieval and later ceramic building material was also found in 84. This suggests a degree of contamination of the dumps due to reworking by medieval ploughing and modern building work.

2.6.2 Period 6: Phase 2 (Fig.3)

Towards the western side of the site in Trench N was a ditch aligned east-west, which measured 2.0m wide by 0.8m deep (120). It contained 3rd to early 4th century pottery, and so seems to have been one of the latest elements of the field system.

During the watching brief on the road construction work in the south-west corner of the site, the closest point to the walled area, a possible major ditch was noted but largely unexcavated (Fig.3). A layer of dark grey silty clay loam with a moderate content of stone flecks and fragments up to 0.15m long (5039) was observed at the extreme western end of the road construction trench. It was at least 9.0m wide (east-west). Ten metres to the east there was a similar deposit, which measured 10.0m wide (5038). They were separated by a layer of light brown silty sand, which appears to be undisturbed natural subsoil but could have been redeposited (5040). Taken as a whole, the features were at least 29m wide, and the eastern edge was some 64.0m from the east wall of the Roman settlement; the western edge lay beyond the limit of the watching brief. Limited excavation demonstrated that the features were at least 0.2m deep. At the time of the excavation they were tentatively interpreted as late Roman defensive ditches, which were intended to protect the east side of the walled settlement. Bastions were added to the walls at Brough, probably in the later 3rd century (Wacher 1969, 43-53), so the addition of broad defensive ditches would not be a surprise. However, subsequent trial trenching adjacent to this spot by Headland Archaeology found no evidence of such substantial features (P. McNaught, pers. comm.). Consequently, they may have been insubstantial features, perhaps elements of the medieval ridge-and-furrow.


© Internet Archaeology URL:
Last updated: Tue Nov 28 2000