ARCHAEOLOGY IN PICTURES
PHOTO BY TONY
RUDSTON ROMAN VILLA
SOME idea of the great depth of this huge well can be ob
tained by observing the minute size of the ladder at the very bottom. The well was in fact 99 feet deep, and its diameter averaged 9 feet to within 6 feet of the bottom. The well belongs to the Roman villa at Rudston in Yorkshire, well known for its crude mosaic, now in Hull Museum. Quite why it was so deep—and wide—is not known, and it is difficult to find any parallels. The water-table today comes up about 30 feet from the bottom, and the excavators, Tony Pacitto and Ian Stead had to keep a pump running continuously, day and night. But it was built down through chalk, and the water table may well have OWN COPYRIGHT
The great well varied since Roman times.
It was built in the latter part of the third century, and wooden buckets were used to haul up the water. The remains of the iron fittings of these and of the iron chains were found at the bottom, together with some radiate coins typical of the late third century. The well then went out of use for a while, as there was a layer of sterile rubbish. But it was re-used in the second half of the fourth century, when pottery jars rather than wooden buckets were used for hauling the water, for a mass of broken 'Huntcliff' ware jars were found between 81 and 85 feet down.
Drinking from a Saxon beer mug P ROMINENT among this year's finds from the excavations of the Saxon town at Thetford was a kiln with some pottery vessels still intact, dating to about the year 1,000. In order to test their quality, the excavators under Brian Davi son filled them with beer and car ried out a carefully controlled scientific experiment. The results were favourable, though they found that the outward flaring of the lip made it difficult to drink cleanly. Conclusion: the Saxons were probably messy beer drinkers!