A New Building on the Very Last Day!

Excavations are famous for producing last minute surprises. We always joke that some of the most significant discoveries occur at the 11th hour just as the trench is due to be backfilled. Well, the 2013 excavation in the eastern vicus was no exception. In addition to main excavation area, we opened a small trench called ‘area 2′ which was specifically to target the Roman road and produce a section and plan of the road construction. This trench was easy to position due to the clarity of the two road ditches in the geophysical survey data. The trench was opened by machine at the start of the dig and then left to be hand cleaned and recorded towards the end of the season. Part of the reason for leaving this task towards the end was because we were confident that we knew what was going on in this trench. A lovely Roman road surface, with kerb stones on the downslope side and 2 ditches. It was only when we began to excavate the southern ditch however that we began to realise, not only the substantial nature of the construction, but also that our kerb stones were ‘not quite right’. They were actually faced on the wrong side, and were positioned on a cobble foundation in the upper part of a backfilled ditch. With the facing of these stones fronting the road, and having identified the real substantial kerbing along the edge of the ditch, we had to conclude that this may be the foundation of a building fronting the road. And so…… just one more small extension!

On the very final day of the excavation, reserved for packing up equipment and monitoring the backfill, we used a machine to extend along this line of stones to the east with the sole pupose of finding a corner. If the line of stones turned to the south then this had to be a building. As you can see from the pictures below, the wall line did indeed turn to the south, which means that we have yet another roadside building in Derventio. This really helps us to reconstruct the roadside scene, with continuous occupation along the road coming into the settlement from the east. This also suggests a  line of roadside buildings between the strip-house excavated in our main area and the small road trench (area 2) some 100m to the west of the main excavation.


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