AlchesterA: Romanfort & paradeground?
Eberhard Sauer with a section by Simon Crutchley
Simon Crutchley (of the RCHME):
In December 1990, I was examining some air photos of what appeared to be a Roman
Tracing the supposed route of the road to where it crosses a stream, we found a row of small, flat stones bedded on yellowish gravel.
field system near Alchester, a Roman town Unfortunately it was impossible to trace the Bottom left.
near Bices ter. RAF photos taken 1943-5 edges of this 1f1eature" as the rest of the bank Aerial photography showed a playing-card shaped enclosure was too overgrown.
revealed this 1.9 ha with two ditches approaching it: was this a fort? The interior was discoloured,
I produced a brief report in 1992, but no further work was carried out until the dry suggesting it might have been metalled. After summer of 1994, when new photographs
I had examined other photos and maps going back to 1797, and talked to the landowner, it revealed that there was more to the feature than had first been visible. Two years later, I
enclosure, with a road leading to the entrance in the North (top). The yellow colour of the crop in the interior hints that the topsoil was clear that I could at least rule out any modern construction. Was it Roman?
made contact with the Oxford University Archaeological Society - OUAS.
here contains a high proportion of stones
I visited the site with a colleague in April 1991, and we confirmed that the discoloura-
tion of the soil was due to a high concentra-
Eberhard Sauer continues:
tion of small stones. The change in the soil
Simon Crutchley (who initiated the was found to match almost exactly the project) and I were equally curious to find which impede the growth of plants: these stones are all that is left of a platform which has been lost.
The contrast to the feature as seen on the aerial photographs.
out more about this monument. We were surrounding area is most clearly visible in the SE (right lower corner), whereas in the
NW (left upper corner)
there is just a bank
(visible as a yellow strip) inside the surrounding ditch (the dark green line). It is possible that the construction of the platform was never completed here (as in
Tomen-y-Mur, see p.36). The enclosure reused a section of the southern ditch of an earlier
Roman camp. Its defensive ditch can be seen as a dark green line as well. It continues beyond the southern (lower) side of the central enclosure in both directions and forms a distinctive rounded corner in the field to the W (left).
Photo. Courtesy of the RCHME, ~ Crown copyright. 15126/31.
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