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COUNTY OF DORSET (continued).
COUNTY OF DORSET (continued).
St. Peters in Wareham.
St. Andrewes Mylborne.
COUNTY OF DORSET (continued).
COUNTY OF DORSET (continued).
Wotton Phytz Payne.
Stower Est Over.
Chapell of Leghe.
Chapell of Chetnoll.
Melburye Bube with the Chapell of
20. Hynton Mary.
St. Peters in Shafton.
Chapell of West Orcherd.
Excavations at Silchester.
By W. H. ST. JOHN HOPE, M.A.
OR the first time in the history of English archæology the systematic and, it is to be hoped, complete examination of the site of a RomanoBritish city has been undertaken, under the auspices of the Society of Antiquaries. The sites of Verulamium and Uriconium have been partially investigated, and various important buildings have been uncovered and planned on the site under notice, but no systematic excavation has been begun with the object of ascertaining the extent and arrangement of the buildings that once occupied such an area as that within the walls of Silchester.
Since the excavations have been undertaken by the Society of Antiquaries, it is only right that the detailed account of the discoveries made should first be communicated to the Society itself. A few remarks, however, on the general lines on which the excavations are being carried on, and the results obtained, will perhaps serve to show the great interest attaching to the site.
Whether the Romano-British city at Silchester, as seems likely from its important position and large area, is the Calleva of the Itineraries, or some other place of which the opponents of the Calleva theory cannot give us the name, is a question that need not concern us now. It is sufficient to here state that the site contains 100 acres, and is still encircled, with hardly any breaks, by the remains of a great wall of flint with stone bonding courses, over 9 feet thick, and with an average height of 12 or 14 feet; on the south there are portions nearly 20 feet high. The mortar throughout is white, without any traces of the mixture of pounded tile so erroneously supposed to be the universal characteristic of Roman mortar. Within the wall, and forming a backing to it, is a strong earthen vallum, which, together with an outer mound partly encircling the city, seems from its non-Roman plan to belong to an earlier inhabited area on the site. The wall was pierced by four gates facing each of the cardinal points, and by a postern gate on the
north-east, which led to a still existing amphitheatre.
As the greater part of the site when the present excavations were begun was under corn and peas, the first works were devoted to a thorough examination of the north, west, and south gates, and of certain features in the construction of the wall. The north and south gates, which lie at the ends of a street or main road running straight through the city, were partly excavated about eighteen years ago by the late Rev. J. G. Joyce, F.S.A., who found that each consisted of a single arch spanning the roadway. He was, however, unable to ascertain what has now been done, that these gates were not flanked by guard chambers.
Some interesting architectural remains were also found at the south gate, from which, together with others recently discovered, it is possible to recover much of the elevation of the gate, and the Doric columns that may have flanked it. By cutting a deep trench through the mound backing the wall we have been able to find its exact thickness at the south gate, and several very interesting features in its construction.
The east gate, which was partly opened out by Mr. Joyce in 1872, was found by him to have had a double archway, with flanking guard-chambers; but very little more than the concrete foundations seem to have remained.
The west gate has been for the first time uncovered during the present operations, and its remains fortunately are very considerable, especially in the southern half. The walls are built of flint, with bands of tile, and the jambs of the doorways into the guardchambers are fairly perfect. The central wall dividing the two roadways, which was not found by Mr. Joyce at the east gate, is standing to a height of nearly 3 feet, and part of the great impost that surmounted it was found hard by, with a rebate cut in it for the door to shut against. From a large fragment of the ironwork of the door its exact thickness can be recovered. At some late period in the history of the city the southern archway was blocked with masonry and disused, the northern arch being found sufficient for the traffic, or as much as the inhabitants could defend. The
modern highway still passes through the site of this northern arch.
a strong wall has been traced in the field, extending at one end in an easterly direction under the churchyard, and in a northerly direction for over 200 feet, where it is stopped by farm buildings. This wall is apparently the boundary of an enclosed space alongside a line of street, and within it have been found two large detached rectangular buildings, filled in with clay and sand, as if to form raised platforms for something, perhaps temples. They were at any rate buildings of importance, with wall veneers of polished Purbeck marble, and even the external walls were plastered and painted.
In the plan of the city shown on the 25-inch Ordnance Survey map there appear at intervals of about 200 feet, broad projections like buttresses on the inner face of the city wall. A careful examination of one of these shows that instead of being buttresses, they were in all probability the substructures for wooden watch-towers, about 12 feet square, spanning the top of the wall.
For reasons already stated not much new excavation has yet been done within the area of the city. One of the large insula or blocks north of the forum and basilica, about 400 feet square, has, however, been outlined, and part of it carefully trenched and excavated. Quite contrary to expectation, a large portion of it seems to be occupied by gardens belonging to large houses placed at each of the four corners of the square. One of these houses, a building of considerable importance, was excavated by Mr. Joyce, but exposure to frost and wet has reduced the walls to shapeless lines of flints. A second house has been partly cleared during the present works, but the late harvest has hindered the removal of the barley on the rest of the site, and rendered it difficult to obtain labourers to resume the work. Before the end of the month it is hoped that this part of the square will be completely excavated.
One of the most important discoveries made by Mr. Joyce was that of the basilica and forum, occupying the greater part of a large square in the centre of the city. There appeared to be much doubt as to whether the basilica had two aisles or only one. Latterly it certainly had only one, the whole building having clearly been almost entirely rebuilt from the ground. According to the original plan there must have been two aisles, and recent excavations have now proved the point, as well as brought to light a number of very interesting facts that had escaped the previous explorers.
In another part of the site, the field next the parish church of Silchester, a very interesting work has been begun. The church and graveyard evidently cover the site of Roman buildings, as walls and foundations have repeatedly been met with in digging graves. On the west side of the churchyard
But the excavations have been fruitful in other things besides walls and foundations. Pottery of all kinds has been found abundantly, from the finest so-called Samian to the coarsest hand-made stuff. The result of each day's find is carefully washed and sorted, and so some sort of notion can be gained of the comparative quantity of each kind used by the former inhabitants of the city. Of articles of bronze and iron many interesting examples have been found, including keys, rings, various kinds of tools,
The more important of these will probably be exhibited at Burlington House when the Society of Antiquaries resumes its meetings in November. Remains of wall plaster decorated with red, yellow, blue and other colours, pieces of carved stone, and roofing tiles with curious markings such as footprints of men and animals, and potters' stamps, are also constantly being found. One piece of tile bears the imprint of a baby's foot, so sharply defined that even the texture of the skin is clearly visible !
Should the present beautifully fine weather continue-I am writing on September 12— we may reasonably hope within the next six weeks to considerably extend our present operations, and, we trust, with equally good results. No works can, however, be carried on without money, and it behoves everyone interested in Romano-British archæology to send some contribution, however small, to the treasurer of the Silchester Excavation Fund, F. G. Hilton Price, Esq., F.S.A., 1, Fleet Street, EC. Visitors to the site, too, may depend upon finding some of the executive committee on the spot, who will gladly give them every information.
Proceedings and Publications of Archæological Societies.
[Though the Editor takes the responsibility for the form in which these notes appear, they are all specially contributed to the" Antiquary," and are, in the first instance, supplied by accredited correspondents of the different districts.]
The ROYAL ARCHEOLOGICAL INSTITUTE, who visited Gloucester thirty years ago, again made that city the centre of antiquarian research at their annual meeting from August 12 to August 19. At noon on Tuesday, August 12, the mayor and corporation officially received the visitors in the Corn Exchange, presenting an illuminated address of welcome, to which Earl Percy replied, as president of the institu in his usual happy style. This was followed by the presentation of an address by Sir Brook Kay from the Bristol and Gloucestershire Archæological Society. The presi dent of the meeting, Sir John Dorington, M.P., having taken the chair, delivered his inaugural address. It was an address of real ability, giving a foretaste of the pleasurable week's work before the members and their friends. We find space for a single extract, descriptive of the abundant remains of medieval domestic architecture: "Nowhere in England, that I know of, is there such an abundance of small houses, such as the freeholders and gentry of the Jacobean, Elizabethan, Tudor and earlier times lived in, strong in the excellent stone with which they were both built and roofed, picturesque in their outlines and perfectly adaptable to modern use. Prinknash, the Court House, Painswick, Moor Hall, Througham, Upper Slaughter, Catswood, Middle Lypiatt, Chavenage, Owlpen, and, I may add, my own house, are well-known examples. In this city very numerous half-timbered houses will attract your attention, amongst which not the least remarkable is the New Inn, still the New Inn, although built in 1450. A parchment roll belonging to the Corporation of Gloucester, enumerating the houses in the town in 1455, states that in Northgate Street, next to the house owned by Sibilla Hariet, and occupied by Matilda Perkin, butcher, 'The Abbot of St. Peter of Gloucester holds in fee a great and new inn called the New Inn, lately built from the foundations by the praiseworthy man John Twinning, monk of the same place, for the great emolument and profit of the same and of their successors.' This house is nearly of the date when Chaucer describes his party setting out from the old Tabard, and when the members of this society visit it, as no doubt they will, the old welcome might not come amiss:
Now lordlings truly Ye be to me welcome right heartily; For by my troth, if that I shall not lie,
I saw not this yeare such a compagny
At once in this hostelrie as is now,
Fain would I do you mirth, an I knew how.
And then the landlord throws out the suggestion to this company about to set out on a pilgrimage, just as we are going to begin a pilgrimage to-morrow round Gloucestershire :
This is the point to speke it plat and plain, That each of you to shorten with your ways
In thisen voyage shall tellen tales twa.
A wonderful survival of the past. Even the post is No change in name, no change in use, the only change, the change inevitable to all and incessantly going on, is the constant change and renewal of the individuals by which the business of life is carried on. You will notice the picturesque court with open galleries running round. The doors opening into the bed-chambers lead directly from these galleries. Each guest may be said to have his own front door, and twining creepers would almost lead one to believe that sunnier climes than ours favoured the sojourners beneath its roofs. Were such inns modelled on a foreign form, or were our ancestors a hardier race ?"
In the afternoon the members divided into two groups-one, under the guidance of Mr. John Bellows, visiting the Roman portions of the city, the other inspecting the medieval remains, which were described by Mr. F. W. Waller and Mr. H. Medland. The attention of the former section was chiefly directed to the highly-interesting "finds" discovered by Mr. Bellows on his own property in Eastgate, and he gave evidence to show that the present marketplace occupied the site of the forum of Roman Gloucester. Excavations recently made prove that the foundations of the Roman city wall run under the cathedral. The tour of medieval Gloucester included the churches of St. Mary de Crypt, St. Owen, and St. Nicholas, the Crypt Grammar School, and the Black Friars Priory. Several quaint houses were visited in Lower Wellgate, including the one in which Bishop Hooper slept the night before he was burnt at the stake. Sir John Dorington's striking reference to the New Inn caused that famous hostelry to be closely inspected.
In the evening Dr. Freshfield, F.S.A., opened the antiquarian section, and delivered a bright resumé of the chief antiquities brought to light during the year, enumerating and commenting upon the following English discoveries: (1) the cinerary urns of a Belgic race brought to light at Aylesford by Mr. Arthur Evans, F.S.A.; (2) the systematic excavations begun at Silchester (so generously supported by Dr. Freshfield); and (3) The archiepiscopal vestments of Archbishop Hubert Walter found at Canter. bury. Professor Montague Burrows, F.S.A., read a paper on "Oxford as a Factor in the Progress of Archæology."
On Wednesday 150 of the members went up the Severn to visit the highly-interesting Saxon church of Deerhurst, well described by the vicar, Rev. G. Butterworth, and subsequently the famed Abbey of Tewkesbury. Of the abbey, Mr. Albert Hartshorne, F.S.A., acted as exponent, giving an interesting summary of its history. Mr. Hartshorne, however, did far more than any mere collating of previous knowledge, for he brought his great experience in mediæval monuments and heraldry to bear upon the grand array of tombs in the old chancel, which he described as being one of the finest series in Europe.
In the evening of the same day Professor Middleton, F.S.A., delivered the opening address of the architectural section. Speaking of the great use of