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«ROMANO-BRITISH CEMETERIES AT CIRENCESTER - COTSWOLD ARCHAEOLOGICAL TRUST LTD. Th is vo lume is dedicated to the mem ory o f Ca lvin Wells ( 1)( lH- ...»

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ROMANO-BRITISH CEMETERIES AT CIRENCESTER

-

COTSWOLD

ARCHAEOLOGICAL

TRUST LTD.

Th is vo lume is dedicated to the mem ory o f

Ca lvin Wells

( 1)( lH- 1'J7H)

CIRENCESTER EXCAVATIONS II

ROMANO-BRITISH CEMETERIES AT

CIRENCESTER

by Alan McWhirr, Linda Viner and Calvin Wells

WITH CONTRIBUTIONS FROM

Dorothy Charlesworth, T.e. Darvill, Brenda Dickinson, Margaret Guido, B.R. Hartley, M.

Hassall, M. Henig, R.H. Leech, D. Mackreth, R. Reece, Valery Rigby, T. Slater, Clare Thawley, T. Waldron, DJ. Wilkinson

AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY

Nick Griffiths Published by Cirencester Excavation Committee Corinium Museum, Cirencester, England 1982 © Cirencester Excavation Committee 1982 Corinium Museum, Park Street, Cirencester, Glos., GL7 2BX, England ISBN 0 9507722 1 6 The publication of this volume has been financed by the Department of the Environment.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the Cirenccster Excavation Committee.

Produced by Alan Sutton Publishing Limited, 17a Brunswick Road, Gloucester.

Printed in Great Britain by Page Bros (Norwich) Ltd.

CONTENTS

Page Microfiche List of plates 9 List of figures 11 List of tables 14 Acknowledgements 17 Introduction 19 Excavation codes 19 22 Microfiche Geology and topography 23 Historical Summary of the Quems 26 Pre-Roman period 26 Roman period Post-Roman period by Terry Slater 27

THE EXCAVATIONS

Extraction of Stone 31 Introduction

–  –  –

Prior notification of the construction of the western relief road around Cirencester allowed a series of excavations to be planned over a number of years and as a result many people became involved in the work of the Committee both during and after the excavation programme. The work of five seasons, between 1969 and 1974 is reported in this volume, plus an excavation in 1976 directed by Dr. R.H. Leech on behalf of the Committee for Archaeology in Avon, Gloucestershire and Somerset. In addition, T.e. Darvill carried out excavations on the site of Qucrns House kitchen garden in 1978 prior to the construction of the new ambulance station, and we have taken the opportunity of including his report in this volume. D.J. Wilkinson observed a number of areas during construction work to the west of the town, most recently in 1981, and his reports are also included, as are the observations of T.J. O'Leary; R. Downey, D.J. Viner and R.J. Zeepvat to whom the Committee is indebted.

The difficult excavation of the Bath Gate Cemetery was in the hands of a number of skilled supervisors, and but for their devotion, the work of interpretation would have been impossible.

They were David Viner (1969-70), Mark Webber (1971) and Linda Viner (1972--4). Work on the cemetery to the north of the Fosse Way, the road itself and the adjacent building was supervised by J.A. Derry (1971-2), David Wilkinson (1973-4) and Roger Leech (1976).

Photography was the responsibility of R. Peers (1971), C.J. Shuttleworth (1972-4), Roger Leech (1976) and Tim Darvill (1978), with some additional aerial views taken by J. Hancock and R. Brown. The pottery shed was ably administered by the late Annie Anderson, Ian Lea and Helen McWhirr.

The bulk of post-excavation analysis was carried out by Valery Rigby and Linda Viner; with John Thawley and Ann Woods responsible for conservation. The illustrations for this volume are the work of Nick Griffiths. Without their support and continuing loyalty the production of this report would not have been possible; moreover it certainly would not have been completed without the editorial skills of Linda Viner who, in addition, has written much of the first section.

The crucial element of any cemetery excavation is the detailed study of the skeletal remains, and we could have wished for no greater authority than the late Calvin Wells who first became involved with Cirencester 'people' when Richard Reece asked him to examine the burials from the Oakley Cottage rescue excavations in 1960. We have respectfully dedicated this volume to the memory of Calvin Wells who despite liis illness continued to work on the Cirencester material until shortly before his death in 1978. We are also greatly indebted to his widow, Freddie Wells, and wish to thank her for continued support throughout.

During the course of the excavations and post-excavation analysis many local people have helped in a variety of ways. The late John Whyte, tenant of the land on which we dug, and his son Alan were both stalwart supporters of our work; so too were the landowners, the then Cirencester Urban District Council and later Cotswold District Council, and Gloucestershire County Council. Equipment was generously loaned by all these authorities and by the late Harry Pitts of Cirencester, and Peter Berry of South Cerney.





The Committee was allowed facilities for observation when new offices for Christian Brann

1718 CIRENCESTER EXCAVATIONS II

Ltd. were under construction alongside the relief road and Gloucestershire County Council allowed similar access during the actual road construction. Thanks are also due to the Gloucestershire Area Health Authority for permission to excavate the site of the ambulance station and to observe the construction works. A traditional feature of excavations in the town has been the way in which the Cirencestcr Archaeological and Historical Society has regularly provided guides to show the many visitors around our sites and throughout Miss D.M.

Radway organised this task with great skill.

Finance for the excavations was provided by a number of bodies, but primarily from the Department of the Environment. Generous grants were also received from Glouccstcrshirc County Council, Cirencester Urban District Council, Cotswold District Council, Circnccster Archaeological and Historical Society, the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, and individuals visiting our excavations. The Department of the Environment again provided nearly all the resources for post-excavation work, and without this continued support the production of this series of Cirentester Excavations would not have been possible. Our particular thanks must go to Miss S.A. Butcher and Dr. C.]. Young who have been involved with the Committee's work for many years. Both have appreciated the problems in processing the material from such large urban excavations. More recently the Committee has worked closely with P. Gosling, the Department's inspector now responsible for our area, who, like his predecessors, continues to keep a close and interested eye on the archaeology of Circnccstcr.

In the course of compiling specialist reports, the help of the following is gratefully acknowledged: for pottery Valery Rigby, Brian Hartley, Brenda Dickinson, Katharine Hartley, Scott Anderson, David Peacock, Janet Richardson, Alan Vince, Mike Fulford, and Chris Young; for all other materials Linda Viner, Margaret Guido, Don Mackreth, Richard Reece, Mark Hassall, Martin Henig, Clare Thawley, Glenys Lloyd-Morgan, Leo Biek, Don Bailey, Mark Maltby, Guy Grainger, Jane Timby, and Justine Bayley. The glass report was completed by Dorothy Charlesworth in 1978, and the Committee would wish to record the great debt it owes her for the detailed catalogue of glass from all sites excavated by the Committee since 1960 which she completed shortly before her death. Lead analysis of the human bones was conducted by Tony Waldron; with C14 analysis of samples carried out by the Harwell Laboratory, Abingdon. Hallam Ashley, of Norwich, was responsible for photography of the human remains under Calvin Wells direction. An historical analysis of the post-Roman development of The Quems has been provided by Dr. Terry Slater.

The Committee continues to benefit in having Professor 5.5. Frere as its chairman and a group of dedicated members some of whom have attended meetings for well over a decade. In particular Miss Joyce Barker has been a member since the formation of the Committee and is always willing to give advice and to help whenever asked.

Finally a word of thanks must go to all Cirenccstcr people who helped the work of the Excavation Committee no matter how small the contribution may have seemed.

Alan McWhirrMarch 1982 INTRODUCTION

Large-scale development of the area to the south-west of Cirenccster in the period 1969-1981, provided an opportunity for Circncester Excavation Committee to investigate an extensive tract of ground lying between the walls of Corinium Dobunnorum, and the amphitheatre. (Fig 1).

Excavation prior to the construction of the western relief road, completed in 1974, resulted in the recovery of over 450 Romano-British burials from the extensive Bath Gate cemetery lying either side of the Fosse Way as it leaves the Roman town heading towards Bath. Evidence of stone.quarrying in the area before the third century was obtained in excavations both to the north-west and south-cast of the amphitheatre, with subsidiary roads branching from the Fosse being constructed to serve the industry. An extra-mural building north of the Fosse scaled by the later cemetery may have had a craft or industrial function. (Fig 2).

Construction of the eastern by-pass produced evidence for at least thirteen burials outside the Verulamium Gate, and the opportunity therefore has been taken in this report to collect together all the evidence of the known pattern of Roman cemeteries around Corinillm.

Intensive and detailed anatomical analysis of all available skeletal material by Calvin Wells has contributed a great deal to the study of palaeopathology of the Roman community of Corinillm Dobllnnorum, once the second largest town in walled area in Roman Britain.

It was felt that numerous excavations and observations over such a large area in the period 1969-1981, and under differing conditions, did not lend itself readily to individual site reports, given also the current physical and financial restrictions of publication. Therefore, a thematic approach has been adopted, whereby a study of observable chronological development in the area of the Querns has been assessed, using a variety of sources. For example, evidence of stone extraction in the Roman period was recovered from a number oflocations, and has been grouped together in the text to provide an overall view of the industry in the area. More detailed discussion of individual excavations can be found in the site records, microfiche copies of which arc stored at the National Monuments Record, London. The all-encompassing descriptive term "the Querns" has been used throughout the text to denote that area of land, west of the Roman town, south of the Tetbury Road, north of Cotswold Avenue, Chesterton, and with the Roman amphitheatre at its centre (sec p. 27 for derivation of name). The Bath Gate Cemetery is defined as the area of Roman burial lying immediately outside and to the west of the Roman town gate of that name, the site of which was confirmed in 1974.

EXCAVATION CODES

Excavations in the area of the Querns and Bath Gate Cemetery in the period 1969-1976 and 1978 were assigned site codes CS, CT, EA and DW. An abbreviated year code (for example 69 for 1969, 70 for 1970) follows the site code abbreviation when it has been necessary to refer to the work of a specific season. In addition, for site CS, the year code is followed by a trench number (arabic). Layer numbers form the last element in the code.

–  –  –

..

.,, ~

–  –  –

Following advice from the Department of the Environment, and in particular Advisory Note 25 dated 28 July 1980, this report initially written for text publication has been extensively revised for a text/fiche publication. Plans and sections appear in the printed part of the report so that they can be used in conjunction with the fiche. Specialist reports arc split between text and fiche with the bulk of these reports appearing on fiche. The printed part of this report contains details of the excavation and the overall conclusions. There is also a discussion of the skeletal material by Calvin Wells based on his examination of over 400 skeletons, the detailed results of which are contained on fiche.

The production of a text/fiche format is an experiment tackled by few excavators and consequently the Committee is anxious to hear how it is received by the archaeological world.

Fiche are referred to by number, for example, in this volume where there arc 5 fiche, fiche one is 1/5, fiche three is 3/5. The individual frames contained on each fiche arc referred to by a letter followed by a number. The first row is lettered A, the second D, the seventh being G.

The frames in each row are numbered 1 to 14 from left to right. Thus 2/5 C04 refers to row C fourth frame along in the second fiche of five fiches.

GEOLOGY AND TOPOGRAPHY

C irencestcr lies at the south-eastern end of the long dip slope of the Cotswold Hills, geolog ically composed of richly fossiliferous rocks of the Middle Jurassic Age. Th e geolo gy of the immediate Circncestcr area has been little studied in detail by geologists because of the rarity of natural ex posures, A history of geological study in the area has been discussed by Hugh T orrens in Cirencester Excavations I (Torrens, 1982, 72-78). Within the area investiga ted archaeo log ically and the subject of this volume, the underlying natural rock is oo litic limestone.

The landscape to the west of the town is dom inate by the banks of the Roman d am phitheatre, rising above and incorpo rating the upcast of Rom an quarr ying activi ties in the area, figs. 4 and 5. ln 1%9 the principal area investigated by the Co mmittee was bounded on the east by the trackbed of the form er Kcmbl e-Cirencestcr branch railway, and Sheep Stree t;

I. Aerial view of The Quems, August 1973

–  –  –



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