Roman Road Research & Excavations

A direct Roman Road from Winchester to Chichester has been located. In filling the gaps in our published map by air photography it became clear it was a three lane highway. These have been located on the ground in many places, and shows that it is a huge road, with one lane forming terraces 40' wide, and two lanes around 25' wide. The route is being surveyed at 6": 1 mile. We are now surveying to the east of Old Winchester Hill, to the east of Exton in Hampshire (A32).

The Roman Road from Winchester to London has been surveyed as far as the Hogs Back near Farnham. Far more field boundaries parallel and right angle to this road than chance indicate the remains of a Roman field system. In Italy, southern France, and north Africa if the estates were large a grid of estate roads were provided. Such a grid has been found from Four Marks to near Winchester. Three of these estate roads have been surveyed, and excavations occurring on them, see map of these. A GPS survey is planned to determine how accurately two parallel surveyed roads were laid out.

We returned to the Winchester - London Roman Road in September 2022, where a strange feature had been found on the edge of Chawton Park Wood. It was a 60 Roman foot wide ditch with running lanes on both edges. But air photos suggested a light line in the middle of this ditch - not found in excavations in the wood. An excavation in the field in September 2022 found a large amount of crushed flint, but disturbed by the plough. We will attempt a careful excavation in the Wood when cropping arrangement allow in September 2024. It is thought this is a Roman Water Feature, with evidence of a mill at the bottom of the valley. The stone running lanes might be to float or tow logs down to the Mill. But a stone running line in the middle of the ditch may alter this interpretation. Roman water technology was higher than ours, and two other types of Roman Water Features have been found on this Road - one in the next field to the North.

Roman Road Excavations 2023

Bank Holidays from Easter - August where on the Chichester Roman Road. The machine excavations at the Roman site thought to be CLAUSENTUM by the A32 at Exton were completed. A map of the site and positions of the excavations is available here. We confirmed by auger borings that the Northerly Street connected with Shavards Lane - the modern road leading to Shavards Farm at the NE corner of this map. From the Saxon burials previously found down the east side ot this Lane it has been mooted that this Lane dated from the Roman period, and we tested the theory that the original Roman settlement was around this Lane. It can be seen the Roman Road Lanes (excavations 9, 2, 8) are at right angles to this Lane, and air photos and LIDAR show a light line running parallel and the the west of Shavards Lane c 4m wide. Excavation found this to be a Roman Street with ditches at it edges. The assumption is that the original Roman settlement used the spaced Roman Road Lanes as Streets, and constructed two twin N - S Streets to link them together - with the second Street under the Shavards Lane. The Eastern Ditch of the Western Street was full of bones of at least 4 people, the later disturbing the earlier. A iron Hook for hanging a pot over a fire was recovered - likely to date from the early Saxon period. This is likely to alter the interpretation of the Saxon burials, most along the East side of the Lane were in individual graves - though the eastern ditch to the eastern Street was seen.

Since Clausentum is mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary of 200AD the site must have been functioning from about 150AD, so there may be remains of collapsed tile roofs or floors of sufficient area to be picked up by our magnetometer tuned to pottery. Sufficient such areas were found to provide evidence that the Roman original settlement was clustered around Shavards Lane which is on flat ground.

A similar exercise was conducted around the Roman Building found by the A32, and the edge of the Lake we have established. The Building marked X showed as a series of pottery spikes (this will depend on how the site was backfilled). The edge of the Lake to the North turns out to be the Exton parish boundary - which gave strong Iron signals. We have got these before from forms of Iron Ore and Iron stained flints. The edge of the Lake at sites 1 - 3 was made of crushed flint. There may also have been walk ways and buildings in the garden of the Roman building over looking the Lake containing Iron.

There will not be excavations on the Winchester - Chichester Roman Road until the cost of living crisis has declined. Field work will occur at weekends at Chidden Down and Coombe Wood to the east of Old Winchester Hill. These will be announced in the Field Programme. A conference is planned for 2024 on this Chichester Roman Road, and the sites Clausentum and Lomer. The question will be asked why such a large Road with terraces spanning 90' has not been found before. There may be others - such as the one in Dorset which we have surveyed. Field visits may occur. Experts will be sort on Italian Roman Roads which are thought to be smaller than those in Britain.

Roman Road Excavations 2024

This will be on the Water Feature on the Winchester London Roman Road, near Four Marks off the A31. Dates will depend on the harvest, but bookings can be made for weekends in September.

A training course of five modules is available. They cover: Site Layout and Recording, Excavation, Surveying, Finds Processing, Geophysics and new Roman Road methods. They consist of instruction and exercises. You need to book for at least 5 days to complete the course - but you can carry it over to next year. The training course is optional. A recent survey has slammed professional and university run field schools. Less than 20% of students get to draw a Section, less get to do other common tasks. Yet all people coming on our dig will help to draw a section and do other tasks. We have written an article showing how we do it, and why professionally run field schools fail to provide these experiences.

Excursions can be arranged in the evenings to sites on the Roman Roads or other features with pub suppers after.

Reports and publications are available - see the booking form.

Experienced and novice excavators welcome. Further details contact Dr Richard Whaley, Field Works & School Director, 2 Rotherwick Court, Alexandra Road, Farnborough GU14 6DD (SEA appreciated), 01252 548115, 07599 875708 or visit the dig online Information and Booking Form

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