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A recent excavation campaign at Binchester Roman fort concluded with a spectacular discovery. A trench revealed part of a bathhouse that may be one of the best-preserved structures surviving from Roman Britain. Traces of garish frescoes still cling to walls standing above head height, which bear witness to refurbishments that kept pace with the garrison’s demand for creature comforts. We discover how a facility dedicated to cleanliness ended up choked with dirt.

the garrison’s demand for creature comforts. We discover how a facility

Also in this issue, we pay a visit to Alderley Edge to learn the results of a survey unearthing the secrets of a landscape that has attracted miners and myths in equal measure. From a Bronze Age shovel that became a schoolboy’s talisman to a 19thcentury landowner’s revenge on the commuter settlement that had appropriated the name of his family seat, this weird and wonderful landscape is fertile ground for stories.

The devil is in the detail, they say, and for medieval churches and cathedrals this adage is especially apt. A fascinating study of graffiti is giving voice to generations of congregations and clergymen who whiled away the hours incising fears, fancies, and frustrations into the masonry. These frequently crude compositions of ships, windmills, music, and demons bring their creators’ worlds to life with extraordinary power.

A lost landscape has been brought to light in the Biddenham Loop, where archaeologists have dug a huge tract of land bound within a river meander. What they found was a place where monuments evolved over thousands of years, keeping past generations’ decisions very much in the present.

Our contributors this month

BATHING AT BINCHESTER DAVID MASON David has been Principal Archaeologist for Durham County Council since 2004. His publications include Roman Chester – Fortress at the Edge of the World and Roman Britain and the Roman Navy, both published by the History Press.

MEDIEVAL VOICES MATTHEW CHAMPION Matthew is a multiaward-winning freelance archaeologist and author, and the project director of the Norfolk and Suffolk Medieval Graffiti Surveys. His latest book is Medieval Graffiti:the lost voices of England’s churches.

LIFE IN THE LOOP MIKE LUKE For 15 years, Mike has been managing projects for Bedfordbased Albion Archaeology. In the last year, he has published monographs on the Biddenham Loop and on a Romano-British farmstead in Leicestershire.

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