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Roman townhouse remains found under Golden Egg

By citizenmike  |  Posted: March 11, 2014

  • A team of archaeologist on the Golden Egg site (photo by Cotswold Archaeology)

  • Roman remains on the site (Photo by Marketing Gloucester)

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‘HUGELY important’ remains of a Roman townhouse have been found lying under the site of the Golden Egg.

Demolition workers who are currently clearing the site of the former building in King’s Square called in archaeological experts to do a dig.

They have stumbled across the painted wall plaster of a townhouse as well as fragments of tiles and pottery.

Plans to redevelop the nearby bus station also have the added complication of the historic White Friars Priory, a Carmelite monastery, surviving beneath it. A dig will also have to be carried out there before any work can go ahead.

City archaeologist Andrew Armstrong said: “From an archaeological point of view this a hugely interesting and important part of the city – since it includes the north-east corner of Roman city.

“It’s therefore very important that the condition, character and depth of any archaeological remains in this area is understood from an early stage of the planning and design process so that damage to these remains can be limited.

“A programme of archaeological evaluation will be taking place in summer throughout the King’s Square and bus station areas. When I say ‘evaluation’ what I mean is ‘trial trenching’ – which is essentially the excavation of a sample of the site in an attempt to understand the archaeological remains more widely.

“A single trial trench at the Golden Egg site has been undertaken now because the council plans to landscape the site and incorporate it into the wider public realm and obviously it makes no sense to come back in a few months later and dig up the new paving.

“At a depth of three metres below ground level archaeologists uncovered a wall – made from limestone blocks and bonded with mortar. The wall is aligned north-west south-east and runs parallel with the line of the Roman city walls.

“The wall was found in association with a compacted gravel surface – itself overlying crushed limestone rubble. Material recovered from the site included fragments of Roman painted wall plaster, fragments of tile and sherds of Roman pottery.

“These remains have been interpreted as being part of a Roman town house, probably part of an outer wall and an internal floor. The remains themselves bare close comparison with these found to the west during the development of what is now Debenhams.

“These remains were found sealed beneath of considerable depth of later material – most of which seems to have built up over the last 300 years.”

LIFE IN A TYPICAL ROMAN TOWN HOUSE

  • Early Roman townhouses were usually just a single room called the atrium.
  • Rooftops sloped inwards to an opening where there would be a basin to collect rainwater.
  • Atriums would be extended and partitioned to make more rooms.

  • The size of the house was a reflection on the wealth of the owner.
  • Red, orange and blue were some of the favourite colours for decoration at the time.
  • We can thank the Romans for inventing the Julian Calendar we use today, sewers, arches, concrete and mass building of paved roads.

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    10 comments

    • Glos_Lad34  |  March 13 2014, 1:34PM

      Glad to see more Roman artefacts/houses found in Gloucester, more the merrier to look at, now and in the future.

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    • jas37  |  March 12 2014, 10:58PM

      It never ceases to amaze me that some try to blame the current City Council for decisions made 40 or 50 years ago. Do they actually think the same Councillors were in place then?

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    • NotThis  |  March 11 2014, 7:48PM

      Great to find this archeology. I would like to see something like the Eastgate Viewing Chamber incorporated into the Kings Quarter development so as to allow Gloucester to profit from its Roman heritage. How about it Paul James?

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    • agaga  |  March 11 2014, 6:57PM

      I worked on the redevelopment of King Square, there is lots down there but it was just covered up.

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    • Kay_Powell  |  March 11 2014, 6:27PM

      We don't use the Julian calendar today, we use the Gregorian calendar, which is more accurate.

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    • meymey  |  March 11 2014, 4:53PM

      A single trial trench at the Golden Egg site has been undertaken now because the council plans to landscape the site and incorporate it into the wider public realm and obviously it makes no sense to come back in a few months later and dig up the new paving.... nothing would surprise ! ............TRUTHSEEKER So how come they didn't realise these were there when the building was erected? ..... i was thinking that !

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    • jackson99  |  March 11 2014, 4:31PM

      Our wonderful Councillors mention our roman past but they have never made any attempt to preseve any for for the people of gloucester or visitors. They let them be built over and distroyed.

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    • Glawsterman  |  March 11 2014, 3:06PM

      And what's going to happen to it? It will be covered up so none of us 'ordinary' folk get to see it. So much of Gloucesters history is either destroyed, covered up or closed to the public. Open them up let them all become tourist attractions, get people into Gloucester. But this is against what Gloucester City councillors want so will never happen, mores the pity.

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    • TruthSeeker7  |  March 11 2014, 1:31PM

      So how come they didn't realise these were there when the building was erected? I know from someone who worked at the Bank of England on the building side that they were told to keep quiet about new discoveries because it would hold up building works and cost too much money...another case of the same?

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    • jackson99  |  March 11 2014, 1:25PM

      So much of Gloucester Roman History was distroyed in the 1960/1970's when the City centre was redeveloped.

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