Southern Connector Road archaeology

Romano British occupation

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Romano British occupation

In our first article we explained a little about the Roman town that exists to the north of the Southern Connector Road (SCR) route, Durocornovium, while in the most recent article we touched on the Romano-British farmstead that is visible on the geophysics plan.  

Although the SCR was carefully designed to avoid both settlement sites, the current archaeological works have identified some archaeological remains from this period. The first of these sites is located between Durocornovium (to the Northwest) and the Romano-British farmstead. The location is marked by a blue rectangle on the map below. You may notice that you can see the Romano-British farmstead in the bottom right as outlines – which is what the geophysics plan showed – but you cannot see anything in the blue square. This is because the geophysical survey did not pick up anything in this location.

However, during the excavation in this area Headland Archaeology have encountered the remains of a large rectangular structure measuring 20m long and 15m wide. Not very much survives of this building, which is likely due to plough truncation over the years. The height of the wall foundations was no more than 0.4m and some small sections are missing altogether. However, these remains can still tell us a lot about what was happening in this area during the Romano-British period.  

Map showing the location of a a Romano-British building found on the route for the Swindon Southern Connector Road

Location of the Romano-British building

During the excavation, long thin trenches were excavated across the width of the building to understand what internal features still survived. These can help inform how the archaeologists go about excavatiing the rest of the building. During the excavation of one of these trenches several internal features were encountered, so the rest of the building was fully excavated using a grid system.

Using the grid system allows for several ‘sections’ through the building. These ‘sections’ are the veritcal edges of the trenches which archaeoloigists can use to tell how the different soils in the building were deposited. Some of these ‘soils’ can actually be old floor surfaces, layers of debris, ash and other events that happened in the life of the building. These can be sampled and then analysed in a lab for tiny objects such as seeds, charcoal and beads, which can not only indicate how the layers built up, but also what was going on inside the building and what the building might have been used for. 

Photo showing the grid system used in the excavation of a Romano-British building found on the route for the Swindon Southern Connector Road

The grid system on the excavation site

The internal features themselves, or lack of them, and artefacts found inside can also tell archaeologists what a building was used for, and when it was built, used and abandoned. The rectangular building at the SCR contained fragments of imported Roman and locally made Romano-British pottery, indicating that it dates from the Romano-British period. Its shape also identifies it as Romano-British, as the local Iron-Age trend was to build in rounded shapes.

Photo showing the internal features of a Romano-British building found on the route for the Swindon Southern Connector Road

Internal features

Several internal features in the form of ‘post-pads’ were identified in the excavation. The one visible in the ‘internal features’ image is a large flat stone surrounded by a few smaller ones. These are called ‘post pads’ as they would have been the foundation stone for upright wooden posts which supported the roof. Several of them were found throughout the buiding at regular intervals – indicating that this was an aisled building; not unlike the aisles in a church. In the photo model below you can see some of the post pads remains circled in red.

Overhead photo showing 'post-pads' on the excavation site of a Romano-British building found on the route for the Swindon Southern Connector Road

Overhead photo showing ‘post pads’

The exact dates of the building will need to be determined in the post-excavation phase, where Headland Archaeology will look at the soil samples, the ceramic evidence and any other finds to determine the date and function of the building.  

Stay tuned for the next article for some more Romano-British archaeology from the SCR! 

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