Today (4th November), Trust archaeologist Ben Holloway excavated down through the backfilled post-Roman robber-trench to solid material – that is, to the unrobbed Roman stone foundation of the outer wall of the Roman circus. Trust archaeologists are currently undertaking a short phase of work on our excavation on part of the site of the circus, in front of our building Roman Circus House.
We had previously uncovered the stone foundations of a narrow buttress and a wide buttress, and the robber-trench for the outer wall, but the discovery of some unrobbed wall foundation is great news. Post-Roman robber-trenches usually define the lines of robbed-out wall foundations while the buttress foundations are left unrobbed. This unrobbed wall foundation will provide us with more useful data on the construction and plan of the circus. We have now exposed a snapshot of the history of the circus on our current site: the foundation of the outer wall of the cavea (seating-stand) and the foundations of two buttresses to the outer wall, some of the arena surface, building debris from when the circus was demolished, and the post-Roman robber-trench which was dug to extract building materials for re-use.
This is exciting work, as these foundations are actual structural remains of the circus, and – if we are allowed to keep these remains open for visitors to view – then there will also, now, be more to see. Ben also uncovered a broken Roman pot on the circus site today.
The circus centre in Roman Circus House, and the circus site and excavation, are open to visitors on every weekday, 10.30am-4.30pm. Entry is free.
The images show Ben working on the site of the circus today and, in the lower image, from the front to the back, are the remains of the Roman circus: demolition debris, the unrobbed stone foundation of the outer cavea wall excavated down through the backfilled robber-trench, a modern pipe trench, and the stone foundation of the wide buttress, which was cut through by the pipe trench.