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EXCAVATIONS AT THE PRÆTORIUM AT
CASTELL COLLEN, 1911
BY HENRY LEWIS, Jun.
In presenting this Report of seven weeks' work on the excavation of a portion of the Prætorium at Castell Collen, I have to express great thanks to Professor Bosanquet for his valuable assistance and advice.
In this Report I have throughout considered the Prætorium as facing due E. This is not really the case, as it faces E.N.E.
The camp slopes towards the river, and the Roman floor-level is only 2 ft. below the modern level on the E. side, whilst on the W. side it is 4 ft. 6 in. But in this Report all the levels are taken froin the original Roman floor-level.
The position of the Prætorium was located by means of a trial trench dug in April, but the work of more thorough examination was not commenced until August, and with the exception of the chambers S. of the Sacellum the whole building has now been explored.
The materials used in the building were brick and stone, all the exterior and most of the interior walls being of stone, though a large amount of wood seems to have been used in the construction. There is reason to suppose that a wooden Prætorium existed prior to the erection of a stone building.
The stone used is a hard limestone (Silurian), which occurs on the opposite side of the river Ithon, and the quarries, where the stones were dressed, with the remains of the old roads leading to them, can be seen on the hills due E. of the camp.
A large number of curiously-shaped stones have been found, to which the labourers have given the name of pillar-stones. These are of a triangular shape, and seem to have entered into the formation of pillars.
No large pillars, such as once existed round the Basilica at Caerwent and other places, have been found.
A few stones with mouldings carved on them have been unearthed, but they were scattered all over the
Prætorium. Unfortunately, the Prætorium having been used as a quarry for so many years, these stones have been displaced from their original positions. These mouldings are of two kinds : the larger, which were probably used for the border of some chamber, and the smaller, which were probably the border of an inscription.
Two inscribed stones have been found.
Several pieces of much-perished and shapeless calcareous tufa occur in the court outside the Sacellum ; as no voussoirs were found, possibly the arch stones were of this material.
The bricks used were of two kinds. One of local manufacture, which may have been made near the site of the present pumping-station (Llandrindod Town
Council), on the opposite side of the river, where brickworks producing similar kind of bricks were at work a few years ago. The other was of a harder and more durable nature, similar in shape to the hypocaust squares of other Roman stations. These bricks are not local, but were possibly made from clay taken from the vicinity of the river Wye, such as is said to occur below Builth.
A large number of these bricks were made in quad
6TH SER., VOL. XII.
rant-shape, and were probably used for the erection of brick pillars.
Professor Haverfield found composite columus either in brick or stone, or in brick and stone combined, at Corbridge. They have been found on other Roman sites.
On several of these bricks are the marks of dogs' feet, and the finger-prints of the workmen who took hold of them before they were burnt. The same marks occur on the bricks at Holt.
A few flue-tiles and roofing-tiles, mostly in fragments, and a quantity of highly-glazed bricks and building-stones have been found in various parts of the Prætorium, in the opinion of Professor Bosanquet vitrified by the action of fire.
The subsoil of the camp is clay, which was used for placing under the pavements. The clay and the river gravel could be obtained in the immediate neighbourhood, but the red clay used was probably brought from the same place as the imported bricks.
The outside walls of the Prætorium are 2 ft. 6 in. thick, and the inside walls generally 2 ft. thick, with the exception of the side walls of the Sacellum, which are built on the top of stamped clay. All the walls have deep foundations, and consist of stones placed on end, so as to act the part of drains. Occasionally river stones and boulders out of the subsoil were used when making the foundations.
The main drain of the camp evidently passed under the Sacellum ; there, as in other places, the drains have been apparently wooden ducts, consisting of one piece of timber placed on the top of two supports, so as to form a kind of pipe, and were backed with clay. They seem to have been about 8 in. high.
At the door of the Sacellum, and to a distance of 9 ft., there is a paving of large flag-stones, the re
a mainder being open.
I should suggest that formerly this spot was the site of a manhole, and that it was originally paved like the remainder of the building.
In the outer court we found a trap door 1 ft. broad 2 ft. long, the hinges and the ring evidently soldered with lead.
By the buttress on the N. side we found a large circular hole or gully, backed with brick and stone 3 ft. wide and 3 ft. deep; a drain enters this from the wall of Room 9, here it is paved with brick and stone. From this gully, on the opposite side, runs a wooden
duct, which passes under the E. wall and down the N. corridor.
On the opposite side we found a drain leading from the stone square, and at a depth of 3 ft. running down the S. corridor and Via Principalis
. In this was found a large amount of timber, with what seemed to be the remains of decomposed brick. Possibly it belongs to an older wooden Prætorium, as it runs outside the line of post-holes, and would drain away the water from the roof.