Stroud 2019 (STR819)
I am writing this update on our Stroud dig on Thurs 22 Aug and the reason I am not doing a usual blog update, which could be seen by the public, is because of the exciting nature of what we have been uncovering - which for the time being we want to keep private. This is for a variety of reasons, amongst which are that Stroud was affected earlier this year by 'nighthawk' metal detectorists damaging the Scheduled villa site and we have also had members of the public arriving on site wanting to see what we are doing - and thereby trespassing on New Buildings Farm, to the irritation of the owners on whose goodwill we are reliant. We are therefore enforcing a strict rule at present that what we are uncovering is not to be shown on social media.
There are three things that are causing us excitement on our main dig site at New Buildings Farm:
We appear to have uncovered a significant Romano-British building about 100 metres from the known villa site, in an adjacent field.
This building has some unusual features, including some unusually-shaped tiles that have not been seen before by a CBM expert we have contacted at Reading University.
Despite the fact that most finds have been CBM, they are generally larger and in much bigger quantities than we are used to seeing. They appear to include flue tiles with a variety of wooden comb patterns and antefixes.
What does the site at Stroud look like? This is a vertical view of the site by my drone, taken at the end of the day on Tuesday:
In the above photo you can see that we now have a large L-shaped trench (Trench A) and a smaller square trench (Trench B) north of the long straight hedge, and have just started two test pits south of the same hedge. All of these excavations have been sited on features noted on our recent high-resolution resistivity scan.
This photo gives you a closer view of the trenches and test pits:
The test pits had only just been started on Tuesday and so are at a much earlier stage of investigation, although they too are revealing copious amounts of R-B CBM. The most interesting trench so far is Trench A, seen here:
In the above photo you can see that on Tuesday the trench had just been extended to the north and east, so these sections are not at the same depth as the western section. When this photo was taken we had already excavated and removed very large amounts of CBM, below which - as you can see - we had started uncovering stone walls and what appears to be a doorway. The alignment of these walls seems to match that of the villa in the next field north of the stream.
At the end of work today I took some more photos. This one shows the walls (seen from the west) with what appears to be very large floor tiles in the doorway:
This photo shows work going on just beforehand under the cover of a gazebo in the north-east end of Trench A, to bring it to the same level as the rest of the trench. You may be able to see that stone walls are starting to be exposed now in this section too:
It is too early to judge how large this building was or what its purpose was. Meanwhile, as regards the unusual tiles, the most exciting are pentagonal with a pair of nail holes, a pair of which are seen side by side in this 3D model:
There have been some interesting non-CBM finds, including this short piece of what appears to be iron pipe seen in the centre of shot:
However, the vast majority of finds have been CBM and here are examples. First, what appear to be large quantities of pieces of flue tile with wavy-line comb marks:
Here is a tile that appears to have imprints from an animal's paws:
Finally, here are two views of one of the unusual-shaped tiles found that appear to have been cut to shape, for what purpose we are unclear - perhaps as kiln spacers?