Building Roman Britain: Summer 2016 Update

Mark pXRF

The first half of 2016 has been a busy time for the Building Roman Britain project. The appointment of an Undergraduate Research Assistant in February allowed an increase in our work programme that included over 800 analyses, a full GIS plan of the Fishbourne ‘92 excavations, and numerous visits to both Bath and Fishbourne.

March was a particularly busy month with members of the team spending Science Week in Bath analysing material in-situ from the Kings Bath and the Temple Precinct. This was an excellent opportunity to present the project directly to the public and numerous people stopped to talk to us and to read our display. The ability to show people the results of our analysis was particularly exciting.

The Building Roman Britain poster on display next to the King’s Bath in Bath

The Building Roman Britain poster on display next to the King’s Bath in Bath

In early April the team presented a paper at the Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology (CAA) conference in Oslo. The paper focused on the analysis of ceramic building material and presented some interesting interim results. The paper was well received and the methods and approaches outlined stimulated some very useful discussion.

In the second quarter of 2016 the focus of work on the project shifted slightly. With an ever increasing mass of data it was decided to begin processing and interpreting the data alongside some lab-based analysis, with the aim of identifying the most promising areas on which to focus our final investigations. However, we still found time to visit Fishbourne and examine some of the in-situ mosaics. The preliminary examination of data drove a renewed focus on exploring quarry sites in the Bath area and we have since returned to the quarries at Brown’s Folly near Bath to conduct intensive, quarry-face analyses.

As an offshoot from the project, Derek took the pXRF kit to the Purbeck School’s science fair along with members of BU’s STEM outreach team, where he was able to show how scientific methods help archaeologists understand ancient materials. Continuing with the public understanding of science theme, we are now working with our partners at Bath and Fishbourne Museums to develop new, innovative display methods for our results that will include the use of video and digital media to communicate project results and STEM to a wider audience.

Finally, the summer of 2016 sees our HEIF 5+1 funding coming to an end shortly. However, while Derek’s Research Assistant post is finishing soon, he will continue to work alongside Mark and the rest of the Building Roman Britain team into 2017 in order to help bring the HEIF phase of the project to publication and to build the next phase of further investigations into Roman building materials.