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Excavations at Wixoe Roman Town

Atkins, Robert (2012) Excavations at Wixoe Roman Town. Project Report. Oxford Archaeological Unit Ltd. (Submitted)

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Abstract

Between the 31st January and the 6th May 2011, OA East conducted an excavation at the site of Wixoe Roman town, Suffolk (TL 7043) on the eastern side of the River Stour in advance of construction of a pipeline. This work follows on a staged programme of evaluations on the site (Krawiec 2009; Baldwin 2009; Krawiec and Mann 2010; Hopla and Krawiec 2010) which indicated a large Roman site survived within Fields 1 and 2. The excavation revealed features dating from the Late Neolithic/Early Bronze Age to the end of the Roman period. The excavation comprised a 10m-wide linear easement that extended for c.185m just within the eastern limits of the former town and a c.20m-wide linear easement extending for c.390m within the north-eastern part. Ten prehistoric features were found across the excavation areas and these consisted of a Beaker pit, several Late Bronze Age to possibly Middle Iron Age pits and a ditch. These features represent probable sporadic occupation/use in these periods. The excavation revealed no definite Late Iron Age features or artefacts and it is probable that the town was established (at least within this excavated area) in the mid or late 1st century AD and its disuse seems to have been in the very early 5th century. The reasons for its establishment lies in that stratigraphic location of Wixoe being at the junction of a major river, the Stour, and on the route of at least two major Roman Roads, one running from Leicester, through Cambridge to Wixoe and then to Colchester and a second probable road from Great Chesterford toWixoe and then Long Melford. Relatively few features or artefacts date to the 1st century suggesting the town took some time to be established. There is substantially more evidence for occupation from the early/mid 2nd with an increase into the 3rd century, with this level of activity being maintained or even expanded near the River Stour into the early 5th but declining in the north-eastern part in the Late Roman period. The excavation results indicate that the town was divided into areas of different use (domestic, industrial, pits etc.) from the Early Roman period and most of these areas continued in-use to the end of the site. The range of features uncovered included three roads (probably the road to Long Melford, one heading towards Icklingham and a minor internal one), parts of two cobbled courtyards, at least seven post hole and/or beam slot domestic buildings (several surviving with good plans), a 4th century town boundary ditch, several industrial ovens and hearths (some with structures around them) withevidence for copper, iron and lead working. Part of a pipeclay figurine of a ram was possibly deliberately placed within one of these former industrial features. There were also two human burials with grave goods in addition to a few animal burials. The most common feature for all phases were pits and these were concentrated within various parts of the excavation areas. Some of these may have been pits for quarrying, others for storage and a few acting as latrine pits although this activity may have been a secondary usage while the feature was being backfilled. The backfill of some of the pits produced significant quantities of domestic and other refuse with a few displaying evidence of primary deposition. Within a few pits there were probable placed deposits including complete inverted vessels on some of the pits' bases. The excavation has recovered a large quantity of artefacts including over 500kg of pottery and 200kg of animal bone. There have been a number of very interesting individual finds including a dog carved on the end of a bone pin for which no parallel has yet been found. Wixoe is one of a class of about 150 Roman 'small towns' in lowland Britain and is the first major excavation of one within Suffolk for more than 25 years. The results of the excavation are of at least regional importance and will contribute to a number of the published regional research aims and objectives such as understanding the role towns played as centres of supply and demand and changes in town layouts and housing densities.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects:Primary Archives
Geographical Areas > English Counties > Suffolk
Period > UK Periods > Roman 43 - 410 AD
ID Code:1129
Deposited By: Chris Faine
Deposited On:16 May 2013 10:01
Last Modified:16 May 2013 10:01

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