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AN EXCAVATION AT ADEL.
BY DONALD ATKINSON, M.A.
ADEL Camp lies about half a mile north of the church, just beyond Adel Mill, on the left side of the modern road leading to Eccup. On the south and west the ground rises sharply from Adel Beck, which here makes a turn to the south-east. Across the modern road there is a slight fall to the east, while north of the Camp the slope up from the south is continued more gradually. The site, which thus occupies an advanced ridge of the higher ground to the north, closely resembles many chosen by the Romans for occupation in various parts of the country; parallels may easily be found in Wales and the north of England. Their forts were placed wherever possible on rising, though not necessarily on high, ground, in the angle of a stream, which would provide at once a water supply and a defence. These conditions are well fulfilled at Adel, where, in addition to the stream, the low ground to the west of it, still liable to flood, and formerly without doubt a morass, would afford a further protection. The ground on the north is not raised sufficiently above the Camp to command it from near by. The whole of these conditions are almost exactly paralleled in the undoubtedly Roman site at Great Casterton, in Rutland.
Surface indications on the site itself seemed to point in the same direction. A bank of earth and stone still exists on the south and east, and the angle between these sides has the shape usual in Roman camps. A Roman road from York and Tadcaster to Ilkley and Ribchester passes the site at a little distance to the north, and four inscriptions (C.I.L. VII. 203-206), besides other Roman remains, have been found in the neighbourhood, if not certainly in the area itself.1 It appeared, therefore, that excavation would be rewarded by discoveries of historical and archæological importance. Permission to dig was kindly granted by the owners, and the actual work began on July 30th.
1 See note at the end of this article, paragraphs 1 and 3.
The accompanying plan shows the position of the trenches cut. Trenches A and C revealed the existence of a ditch on the east side; A and G the composition of the rampart; D and F the ditch on the west; and H the ditch on the south. Circumstances prevented the carrying of trench B further north than the wall; and the north rampart and ditch (if they exist) must lie in the field beyond. The digging was much hindered throughout by the bad weather which prevailed-only three days were quite without rain, and on several days less than half a day's work was possible, while the sections of the ditch in some cases could not be measured quite accurately, as the trenches became waterlogged before the original level was reached. For this reason there is a possible error of some inches in sections A, C, and F. The ditch in these cases should probably be slightly deeper.
Detailed description of the work may be divided into three sections: (1) the Ditch; (2) the Rampart; (3) the Internal Area.
I. THE DITCH.-In all, five sections were cut, two on the east (A and C), one on the south (H), and two on the west (D and F). Section D is, unfortunately, less accurate than the others, owing partly to what seemed to be an outcrop of stone, and partly to the rapid collection of water. It is probable that the depth of the ditch in this section was originally greater, and its western or external slope steeper, though less so than in section F.
The dimensions of the ditch in the different sections were :—
A-Width of mouth, 15 ft. Depth from original surface, 4ft. 5 in.
The considerable diminution in size of the ditch on the east side may be explained by the fact that on this side there is a stratum of rock immediately under the disturbed soil,
1 The scale of the plan is 60 ft.I centimetre, and of the sections 6 ft.
=1 centimetre, or about 180 ft.=1 in. and 18 ft. 1 in. respectively.
and the cutting of a ditch through this must have been a more difficult task than on the other sides, where the subsoil is composed of yellowish stone-brash. The fact that the ditch is smallest on the weakest side and largest on the side best defended by nature is difficult to reconcile with a military origin of the "camp."
2. THE RAMPART.-Two cuts were made through the rampart (trenches A and G and sections A and G), and trench K was carried far enough to show its nature. Trench A showed that it is now 6 ft. 3 in. above the original surface level, and 16 ft. in width, and its construction here makes it impossible that it was ever much higher. It is composed of material formed by the upcast from the ditch, which on the east side consisted almost entirely of rough lumps of the soft rotten stone from the top of the rock stratum. These were heaped up at random -the section showing no definite structure-while the layer of made earth above was of almost uniform thickness, II to 14 inches, and was greatest on the lower part of the east side. It was clear from this section and section C that at most the berm cannot have been more than I ft. 6 in. in width-much less than is usual in Roman constructions. At the south-east angle (trench G) the material consisted almost entirely of earth, which had spread considerably, so that the original dimensions could not be ascertained with accuracy, the colour and nature of the soil at the bottom of the mound being identical with the surface on which it was placed; and the modern barn built against the outside prevented any estimate of its original dimensions on that side. Its present height above the original surface level is 5 ft., and its width 13 ft., the latter representing only a part of its structure. On the south side the existing rampart is lower and narrower, varying in width from 6 to 10 ft., and in height from 3 ft. 3 in. to 4 ft. 6 in. Trench K shows that it is taken from the ditch, and the section is similar to the section at G. On the west the remains of the rampart were probably to be found in a general increase of the disturbed soil for a considerable distance east of the ditch and over it. The increase was some 9 inches over the average depth of made soil seen in the other internal trenches. It seems likely that at some time the western rampart had been levelled, and the earth spread over the ditch. In section F a black line, which appeared to represent the surface before the demolition of this mound,
1 See (2), page 292.