Sunday, March 29, 2009

Searching for Roman walls in Gloucester

Archaeologists in Gloucester have unearthed evidence that recycling is not just a twenty-first century idea. An archaeological investigation in the centre of the city has discovered that medieval settlers used parts of a Roman wall to construct buildings.

Gloucestershire County Council's archaeology team is exploring the area where Kimbrose Triangle meets Southgate Street before work begins in the summer to connect the Quays to the city centre. But they were frustrated in their search for the line of the old Roman wall.

Gloucestershire County Council project officer Paul Nichols said: "We found Roman deposits about one metre below the pavement level. The earliest deposits were soil layers containing shards of Roman pottery and fragments of wall plaster. Above that was a mortar floor surface, which we believe was the internal floor of a Roman building.

"We didn't find any evidence for the Roman wall, suggesting that we were just inside the line, but it's also possible that parts of it may have been recycled and used to build later buildings. It was certainly a worthwhile exercise and we will be providing a full report that will be of benefit to city planners."

The nearest remains of the wall are inside Gloucestershire Furniture Exhibition Centre on the corner of Southgate Street and Parliament Street, and Blackfriars. Henry Hurst uncovered the wall at Bearland in 1969. It runs under Berkeley Street, to the nearest corner of the Cathedral, to St Aldate Street, through King's Walk, Brunswick Road, and Parliament Street.

"They could have been just inside the city wall, if the wall is there," said Gloucester Civic Trust's Nigel Spry. "It may be that it's been taken away during later periods to use in other buildings."