progress. A number of the individual rooms are visible with the centurions'
block at the west (left) end.
The big find of the season was of a complete suit of chain mail which had apparently been hanging up on the wall when fire broke out and the suit fell to the floor and was covered by burnt daub, which preserved it.
It was found in the passageway at the end of the block, in a junior officer's room, and there was also a large bronze fragment found in the adjacent contuburnium which may have been part of a greave. The whole barrack was destroyed by this fire in the late third or early fourth century is this perhaps a case where' enemy action' -so long derided as an expla-
nation - may indeed be feasible?
Pictorially, the best abstract art of the year was to be found at
Carlisle where an area was being cleared under PPG 16 to the south of the town along Botchergate directed by John Zant of the Carlisle Archaeological Unit.
This should be outside the area of
Roman Carlisle though the position of the defences of Roman Carlisle is completely unknown. In the backlands however a very odd structure indeed was found, a central clay core supported by a row of wattle posts on either side with different coloured clays piled up against it on both sides, and on top of the bank was a row of substantial posts. Its purpose remains totally unknown.
Earlier suggestions of an amphitheatre were soon ruled out,
and it seems unlikely to have been
Excavations at Botch~rgate, with demolition in progress.
CURRENT ARCHAEOLOGY 155
some sort of flood defence against flooding from the River Caldew which today underlies the mainline railway just to the west of it. Any suggestions?
Meanwhile, the other big excitement for the unit has been the excavations of 5t Michael's church in
Working ton, further down the coast. This is one of the major pre-conquest churches in the north west, - 5t
Cuthbert's body is said to have rested there in the 9th century - but in 1994 it burnt down, thus affording the opportunity for a complete excavation of the interior. Although little evidence was found for the early church, a number of early carved stones were recovered - together with evidence for tunnelling under the floor in the early 20th century.