Rescue dig in Cirencester finds Roman street

From This is Gloucestershire

CORN HALL HIDES A ROMAN HIGH STREET

09:00 – 06 March 2008

The remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman high street have been found beneath Cirencester's historic Corn Hall.

Archaeologists believe they have discovered shop walls, the remains of a baker's oven and numerous Roman artefacts.

They have been working at the town centre site since January so developer Wildmoor can begin a multi-million pound transformation of the building and part of the adjoining King's Head Hotel. It is the largest site to be excavated in Cirencester since the 1960s. Laurie Coleman, project manager for Cotswold Archaeology, said: “This is a really big hole for Roman Cirencester. It helps to tie in a lot of the smaller excavations we've done over the years and enables us to build up an effective map of Roman Cirencester.

“We're in Roman Cirencester so you know if you dig a hole there is going to be Roman archaeology somewhere below you.

“We think these are the remains of shops which are just behind the portico. If you think of modern Cricklade Street it might have been an equivalent of that.

“This would have been a mercantile road which had everything a traveller would need, like clothes and shoes and food.”

Archaeologists had to assess ground levels to see which Roman remains had been left after 'medieval robbing', in which townspeople removed ground from the Corn Hall site and used it for construction elsewhere.

Bronze coins, a preserved glass perfume bottle and pottery were also discovered.

Mr Coleman said: “It's fantastic. These structures give us a view of what everyday life would have been like in Roman Cirencester.”

All aspects of the find will be recorded and published so the information is preserved.

Wildmoor is expected to start construction in two weeks. Plans include putting a shopping arcade with a mixture of specialist and mainstream shops in the ground floor, and refurbishing and converting the Corn Hall's upper floors and frontage.

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