Peturia revisited (awarded 2021)

In 2021 work continued in the Burrs Playing Field on the 25 x 3m trench over the courtyard building excavated in 2020. The courtyard building overlay the foundations of a substantial structure. In the centre of the trench the remainder of the possible floor with the collapsed painted wall plaster was removed, revealing burning corresponding with Site V of Philip Corder’s 1936 excavations. Immediately to the south of the courtyard building, a flagstone roof tile spread had slumped into an ovoid pit packed with oyster shell and pottery which may represent some form of structured deposition on the construction of the courtyard building. Beyond, successive courtyard surfaces, were revealed. It is now clear that features in Corder’s Site V, just to the east of our trench, were part of the eastern range of the courtyard building. Finds in the main trench dated from the 3rd and 4th centuries including a copper alloy bangle, jet bead, and copper alloy tweezers. The lower contexts contained 1st and 2nd century AD pottery and other items. Three trenches were opened in the north-east and north-western corners of the playing field, and in a garden south of the Burrs, to investigate the Roman defences. The north-east trench proved problematic due to part of a hitherto unrecorded Second World War air raid shelter. At considerable depth, however, the edge of a ditch probably of the first century fort was located. In the north-western trench, Roman deposits were nearer to the surface, including the heavily disturbed remains of Corder’s Period II stone wall and the top of the clay rampart. In the southern trench, deposits were heavily disturbed by a sewage pipe placed within a substantial Roman ditch.  The 2021 excavations were conducted with emphasis on wellbeing during the Covid 19 pandemic, with a major aim of involving the local community, particularly ex-service and “blue-light” personnel, in discovering their heritage, and 129 people actively participated. For 87% of these, it was the first time they had taken part in a dig. We are grateful to all our staff, sponsors and particularly our wonderful volunteers.