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Coming to terms with messy reality Roman Mucking

An increasing number of archaeologists are refusing to come to neat conclusions about the sites they excavate or write up. What they find is often messy and enigmatic, and they are no longer afraid to say so, as Chris Catling reports after reading the new volume on Roman Mucking.

We all know what Romano-British archaeology looks like: stone buildings, neat rectangles,

splendid mosaic floors, baths and hypocausts, lots of coins, brooches, glass, and pottery. So strong was this expectation that Margaret and Tom Jones, the excavators of Mucking from 1965 to 1978 (CA 311), interpreted its Roman features as the infields and outfields of a villa. No such complex was ever found, however, so they assumed

Above Mike Pitts, now editor of British Archaeology, took this photograph of a Roman cremation burial under excavation while working as a volunteer on the 44-acre site in the early 1970s.



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p h o t o that ‘the main area of… RomanoBritish and Anglo-Saxon settlement must have lain on more fertile land and further down the terrace slopes’. They eventually decided that the villa must be in the area of Walton Hall, some 400m to the south-east. Their interpretative sketches give an insight into how they perceived the site: an


january 2017

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