Update on the Chichester Roman Baths museum

From West Sussex County Times

Archaeologists have descended on a Chichester city-centre car park to check the condition of the Roman baths buried underneath.

The
temporary uncovering of the baths at the site in Tower Street is giving
visitors a taste of what they can expect to see when the proposed
Chichester District Museum is built there.

It is the first time the remains have seen the light of day in 17 years.

Workers
have found the baths to be in ‘excellent’ condition with little or no
deterioration since they were first discovered in the 1970s by
Chichester archaeologist Alec Down and his team of volunteers.

A
spokesman for Chichester District Council said: “Project
conservationists have drilled to take discrete samples of brick and
mortar and these will be analysed for moisture and salt content so a
suitable preservational display environment can be designed.

“Given the very good state of preservation, it appears the remains can easily, though with care, form a permanent display.

“The Roman sewer that runs through the site has been re-opened and intensively sampled.

“Archaeologically,
this aspect of the investigation is very exciting as during earlier
excavations, relatively few environmental samples were taken.

“The
application of new analytical techniques applied to newly-recovered
samples will allow parasite eggs, seed cases and other classes of
environmental remains to be examined, and from these, we can
reconstruct aspects of the Chichester Romans’ health and diet.”

Archaeologists
found the 1970 and 1990 excavations plans and details to be accurate to
within about 2cm-3cm, allowing plans of known archaeology to be
rectified.

Plans to millimetre accuracy will be supplied to engineers and architects of the new museum.

The
car park is closed while the work is undertaken but the lower, larger
part of it will be re-opened next week when it is complete.

The upper area will remain shut to protect the remains.

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