Roman shRine Rutland Water beLoW The shrine’s well-constructed pitched ironstone foundations have survived, together with a limestone wall preserved up to four courses high. Around the northern part of the building, this wall was later refaced and thickened (LeFT).
outer wall had long since been obliterated by the plough. The upstanding masonry of the remainder, however, had helped protect a complex sequence of deposits within the shrine.
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The shrine wall was faced with roughly dressed stone, but this failure to finish the masonry neatly would not have been apparent to visitors as the inner face was plastered over and decorated with red and white paint. Around the northern half of the building the wall was later refaced and thickened, perhaps to strengthen it. The near-complete absence of tile fragments suggests that the shrine had a thatched or wooden shingle roof.
to strengthen it. The near-complete absence of tile fragments suggests that the shrine had a
The entrance to the shrine lay a little south of east, where a stout pair of postholes, 1.7m apart, marked the former location of a timber door-
The entrance to the shrine lay a little south of east, where a stout pair of postholes, 1.7m apart, marked the former location of a timber doorframe. Immediately outside the doorway, a low rectangular plinth of mortared limestone slabs had been erected against the shrine wall. A small bronze crest, only 38mm long, from a miniature Corinthian helmet was found lying beside this plinth. This fragment of a small metal figurine or bust, which probably once had a silvered or tinned finish, may provide a clue to the identity of the shrine’s presiding deity. While a Corinthian helmet was often sported by the goddess Minerva, this martial element also makes the god Mars a potential probably once had a silvered or tinned finish, may provide a clue to the identity of the shrine’s presiding deity. While a Corinthian helmet was often sported by the goddess Minerva, this martial element also makes the god Mars a potential PhoTo
current archaeology | www.archaeology.co.uk beLoW Small god: the discovery of a miniature Corinthian helmet crest (as modelled by this 2ndto 3rd-century spatula handle depicting the goddess Minerva, found in Lincolnshire in 2007) suggests that the shrine may have been dedicated to either Mars or Minerva.
candidate for the deity that once stood on the plinth, greeting devotees.
The main shrine building did not stand in glorious isolation. Instead it originally lay at the heart of a rectangular plot bounded by a series of shallow gullies, less than a metre wide and only 0.2m deep. A length of gully running along the north-eastern limits of this enclosure was packed with darker soil containing a mass of burnt sheep or goat bones, possibly representing the aftermath of sacrificial offerings at the shrine. Charred cereal and weed seeds were also present.
By the late 2nd century AD, this network of gullies had been abandoned in favour of a far more substantial rectangular enclosure, with a sizable V-shaped perimeter ditch. Covering an area of around 45m by 35m, this new religious compound was entered via a single, 8m-wide ditch causeway on its eastern side. An oval oven was detected in the south-eastern corner of the enclosure. The sides and base of this oven had been burnt a pinkishred colour, while fired clay fragments among the fill were probably the remains of a collapsed domed superstructure. Mixed in with this were the charred remnants of fuel from the oven’s final firing, including fragments of small branches, along with cereal grain and weed seeds that testify to the burning of straw and dried grasses.
A smaller satellite enclosure was also laid out to the north of the main compound in the later 2nd century AD. A near central setting of four pits may have held the posts from a small timber building around 4.5m long and 2.5m wide. The pottery from this compound did not extend beyond the
December 2013 |