Southern Connector Road archaeology

What else has been found and what's happening now?

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What else has been found and what's happening now?

In our last article we explained a little about the Romano-British building that had been uncovered and how the excavation can give us information about how the people were using the land during this period. This building, however, is not the only window into life into the Romano-British period along the route of the Southern Connector Road (SCR).

Photo of trackway found in excavation of Southern Connector Road route

Romano-British trackway found in excavation

In the Southern end of the scheme a spread of stony material was encountered. Although the image above may just look like a random arrangement of stones, it is actually a Romano-British trackway, like a small road. A lot of the trackway hasn’t survived well in the ploughed fields, which is why it looks patchy – but you can still make out the width in the photo, and trace where it would have curved around to the right at the top.

While the archaeologists were excavating the track, to define the edges and understand how it was constructed, they found several artefacts, including a bone pin (pictured below). Bone pins were made out of animal bones by splitting the long bones lengthways and then polishing them down, sharpening one end and sometimes adding a hole in the thicker end to make a needle. Longer pins with spherical ends would probably have been used to pin womens hairstyles, but pins were also used to hold clothing. Artefacts like these are easily lost while travelling along roads, or just in everyday life activities, and they can give us a window into the lives of Romano-British people.  

Photo of a bone pin from excavation of trackway on Southern Connector Road route

Bonepin found in excavation

Another window into what the Romano-British people were wearing here was also found near the trackway. The photo below shows several Romano-British ‘hobnails’. Hobnails were used to hold the thick soles of shoes and sandals together. An example of a hob-nailed sandal sole can be seen on the British Museum website (there's a link to this below the article).

The hobnails in the photo appear to be in the rough shape of a shoe – indicating that a shoe was lost here, but over time the organic leather has decomposed, leaving only the hobnails behind.

Photo showing an example of a British-Romano hobnail shoe found in excavation of Southern Connector Road route

Hobnails in the shape of a shoe

While excavating a series of other features close to the Romano-British trackway the team came across another interesting find – a barbed and tanged arrowhead from the fill of a posthole. We know from our background information of the area that there is documented Neolithic and Bronze Age activity in the vicinity of South Marston and Commonhead and this small find hints that there was activity during these times here as well.

These artefacts can give archaeologists a broad understanding of the period the features they are excavating onsite belong to. However, artefacts aren’t the only way archaeologists can date the buildings and features they excavate.  

Photo of arrowhead from a posthole found in excavation of Southern Connector Road route

Arrowhead from a posthole

South of the Romano-British building on the SSCR a series of ditches were encountered – the ones that were visible on the geophysical plan in this area. The Headland Archaeology field team have excavated these, taken soil samples and bagged artefacts – but there is a mix of different period artefacts in these features. It is now the job of the post-excavation team to analyse the contents of the soil and examine the artefacts to try and figure out what period these features belong to. Were they part of an Iron Age farm that preceded the Romano-British one nearby? Are they associated with the Romano-British settlement? This analysis is underway and will continue for the next few months.  

For now our series of articles will come to a close – but you can follow along with Headland Archaeology’s #FindsFriday posts from the SCR on their social networks (there are links on this page). We will be back in the summer with some more information on the project and the finds, as well as a short podcast series where we will hear from some of the archaeologists and other specialists who worked on the project.  

Link to hobnail shoe on the British Museum website

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