So we’ve made it to the end of a phenomenal month’s excavation at Chedworth. The conservators will start work on Monday while we write up a full report of our findings. Our biggest suprise was the mosaic heading under a wall. This suggests that the heated rooms in the West Range were once unheated at a lower floor level before their hypocaust, or underfloor heating, was inserted. We also found evidence for the raising of unheated sections in room 5b. In the south corridor we found curious features in the mosaic:
This pear-shaped hole looks like a setting for a post with stones rammed in to keep the post firmly in place. The post could then have been removed by levering against the big stone at the top. As the end came out, it made the smaller hole at the bottom and pulled some tesserae out with it. There is a similar feature by the steps:
Most suprising of all, this feature is cut by the steps which means that it was there when the steps were laid. The Victorian excavators tell us that they found the steps which are therefore very probably Roman. We can also see that the steps are laid directly over the mosaic!
In archaeology, one of our key aims is to establish the stratigraphy or order of events. This means that we work out whether things are later or earlier than other things. If we are lucky, we find objects or can use techniques to give us dates for the events.
In the south corridor we can say that the mosaic was laid before the post settings. The posts were then removed. (We have to make an assumption that both post settings were made at the same time although we have no stratigraphic link to prove this.) The steps were then laid and cut through one of the settings. The steps are Roman so this means that the post settings are Roman too, and that no one bothered to fix the lovely mosaic! Of course, we don’t know why the posts were rammed into the mosaic. Perhaps there was a plan to raise the corridor too and lay a new mosaic but it never happened. Are we seeing the remains of an ancient unfinished building site or renovation project?
We have lots of new questions and a new way of looking at the West Range, but we will have to wait for our own building project before we can reveal anymore of the corridor. In the meantime, we have had an unforgettable month. It has been wonderful to share our work and discuss ideas with visitors. Many people have told us how thrilled they are that their contributions to the Heritage Lottery Fund are making this project happen and we heartily agree!
That’s it from the archaeologists, but keep an eye on the blog as the conservators begin their painstaking cleaning and fixing.
We’ll leave you with a last shot of the corridor – it won’t be long before we get the rest of the tarmac up!