Exeter Roman excavations excitement
Excavations in the centre of Exeter, England, have uncovered remains of a large Roman townhouse underneath, dating to the 2nd – 4th centuries. Although partially disturbed by the concrete foundations of the former Quintana Gate buildings, its outline can still be seen, including remains of stacking tiles from a hypocaust (underfloor heating system), numerous pieces of tesserae from former mosaic floors and fragments of painted wall plaster from finely decorated walls.
Artefacts recovered from the remains associated with the townhouse hint at the wealth and opulence of the inhabitants, including the finest imported pottery from Europe and the Mediterranean, vessel glass, part of a clay figurine, a cloak-clasp and a finely-decorated bracelet for a child. Large quantities of animal bone and shell suggest a varied diet of cattle, sheep, pig, oyster, mussels, dormice and surprisingly sea urchins. Numerous coins found span a period of around 400 years, including one of the Emperor Nero, who was emperor while the legion was present and during the revolt by Boudicca. There is also a coin of Constantine, the first Christian Emperor.
Alex Farnell, who is leading the excavation for AC archaeology said ‘’This is largest excavation in central Exeter since the Princesshay redevelopment over 10 years ago. There is surprisingly very good preservation and some of the artefacts we are finding show what a wealthy Roman townhouse we have got in a city always considered to be on the fringes of the Roman Empire. I am also very excited about the Roman military archaeology we have found, which shows what an impact the Roman army must have had on the native local population’’.
Coin of Emperor Nero