16 June 2017

Digging Up The Geophysics: Chichester

A couple of years ago, I did some radar surveys in Priory Park, Chichester. After a small test pit dug by CDAS last year, there was an official press release by Chichester District Council, which then led to an awful lot of press coverage (some of them actually managed to spell my name right), and me appearing on South Today briefly. Then this year, there was a bigger excavation run by the council and CDAS that produced even more press coverage. Here are a few more details about it all than you may not have heard about in the press.

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If you look at the above image, the test pit from last year is on the western end of the building marked 'B', targetting the surviving floors, while the larger trench from this year targets the smaller building marked 'C'.

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What is left of the floor fills most of the test pit in the above image, unfortunately with no surviving mosaics. There are walls to the west and north, with a cut representing a robber trench for another wall to the east, over which can be seen part of the remaining floor in the next room

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The above image shows the southern end of the larger trench from this year, looking west. The funny shape of the end of the wall visible in the radar is also visible in plan. The stacks of tile are pilae forming part of a hypocaust heating system, over which would have been an opus floor, part of which is visible sticking out of the baulk at the bottom of the image. That floor, and the pilae, don't appear on the radar data though, so clay products don't seem to have a difference in contrast to the local soil. The building is most likely a small bath house, which despite being built next to the building to the north, is actually attached to the building to the south. This distance is so that if the building goes up in flames because of the under floor heating, the rest of the building is not threatened. Dating seems to suggest a date for the building in the last Roman period.

Congratulations to Chichester on a fantastic dig, and watch this space for more results if they dig more next year.