(Reculver Excavation Group)
During August the Reculver Excavation Group completed its largest single excavation inside the Roman fort since work began in 1952. Some 70 members of the Group took part in the excavations and several thousand visitors were given progress reports by appointed guides. Members of the Kent Archaeological Society were given a special guided tour of the entire fort and a detailed account of the current excavations. More than 1,000 of the Group’s booklets on the fort were sold and a fourth edition may soon have to be printed.
The excavations were carried out immediately east of St Mary’s Church, where a substantial masonry building was found in 1964. This was totally excavated and proved to be a bath building. Its west end partly ran under the later churchyard which restricted excavations. However, the building was found to be more than 40 feet in length. It was divided into three equal divisions each containing hypocausts and an apsidal chamber. The hypocaust in one of these chambers had subsequently been destroyed and a coldplunge-bath inserted. This bath, itself subsequently reduced in size, survived intact. Masses of painted plaster and smashed box-flue tiles were found in the ruins of the bathhouse and now await detailed study. Some of the walls had clearly been replastered at least once, perhaps when the cold-plunge bath had been added. Some of the painted designs showed double medallions in red enclosing uncertain central figures. Pottery and coins were also recovered. The furnace, also heavily robbed, was at the east end.
Immediately south of the bath-house was found a large stone-lined drain running alongside the Via Principalis and probably draining out through the east gate of the fort. The drain was completely filled by fine silt and closed with large sandstone boulders. The main-road (Via Principalis) was itself found intact for the first time and this makes a particularly useful addition to the fort-plan. The road had been remetalled at least once.
Another large masonry structure was found close to the first, but at right-angles to it. This also contained a heavily robbed hypocaust and a very large apsidal chamber. It also seems to have been a bath-building. The northern end of this building was found to have been destroyed by sea erosion when the cliff was cut back some years ago. Its overall dimensions can, however, be determined. Metalled roads and paths were also located on four sides of an unexplored area close to the east gate of the fort. Partly covered by existing buildings this area may contain another important structure. Work will continue during 1966.
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