Roman Road Chichester to Winchester - settlement at Exton

Excavation beside river Meon

First interpretation of the artefacts found during the excavation over the two May Bank Holidays 2017

Picture 1: Trench 1: Tegulae in position in the Box Section. J.M Daguebert

From Trench 1 the first observations are:

Trench 1 was over an air photo dark line assumed to be a ditch, on a ledge above the flood plain of the river Meon. There was no evidence of a ditch in the 4-metre trench, and we would not expect it to be 4 meters wide. There were finds down to over a metre depth, and no natural found. There was a slight colour change at 15 - 20cms, which we took to be subsoil - but it did not show up for the Section Drawing. This possible subsoil became very stony, which might be the remains of Roman metalling. We stopped at our usual depth of 60 cms, and took a Box Section down to 1m depth. It was in this Box Section that most of the above Roman pottery was found, and a colour change to a more red material can be seen in the top picture above. This may the true subsoil.

Picture 2: Trench 1: Pottery vessel shards. J.M Daguebert,

Picture 3: Trench 1: Iron slags. J.M Daguebert,

Trenches 2 and 3:

Trench 1 ran down to 1m without a natural layer occurring, with finds down to nearly this level. It has subsequently been concluded that this ledge on which we are working is man made, whether in Roman times or later. There was an irrigation scheme created in the 1700s, and the A32 just east of the trenches was made in the 1930s. This will be the reason no ditch was found - it being buried by near 1 m of re-deposited material. Trenches 2 and 3 were left for the moment. Trench 4 was expected to be over the northern part of a Roman Street Grid, and it was opened. We report our careful work on the Trench 4 which delivered many artefacts interesting for the site’s understanding.

Trench 4 Layer 1:

Picture 4: Trench 4. Layer 1: The stummel from the smoked pipe in white terracotta. J.M Daguebert,

Picture 5: Trench 4. Layer 1: The details of the stummel from the smoked pipe. J.M Daguebert,

Trench 4 Layer 2:

Picture 6: Trench 4. Layer 2: Shell. J.M Daguebert

Picture 7: Trench 4. Layer 2: Flint scrape. J.M Daguebert.

Picture 8: Trench 4. Layer 2: Building ceramic shards. J.M Daguebert.

Picture 9: Trench 4. Layer 2: Water test. The light tree resin floats on the surface, the others tree resin and the coal sink because they are rich in iron and vitrified residue. J.M Daguebert.

Picture 10: Trench 4. Layer 2: Light tree resin burn (top), heavy tree resin burn (bottom). J.M Daguebert. Picture taken directly on the fieldwork

Picture 11: Trench 4. Layer 2: Light tree resin burn with its silver zone on the top for help in recognition. J.M Daguebert.

Picture 12: Trench 4. Layer 2: Light tree resin burn under camera flash. J.M Daguebert.

Picture 13: Trench 4. Layer 2: Coal. J.M Daguebert.


With the conclusion that the ledge we are working on may be man made, we cannot be sure that the materials we found have not been re-deposited from somewhere nearby. The great depth of soil suggests this - you would get this depth on the flood plain - but we hoped this ledge which is several metres above the flood plain would have normal depth soils. The artefacts found reveal human activity in this region of iron working and Roman pottery. But at present we cannot be sure of the age of the iron working - re-deposited materials can jumble up the age of finds - we have stone age flint with medieval pottery. Coal suggests a furnace for ore or lime-kiln or pottery. But wood resin suggests wood furnace generally used for Roman pottery.

Coal historically

Some chemical analyses may date the iron working, and the tree species in the wood fuel. There should be an iron mill, probably a Roman pottery kiln, and domestic areas nearby.

Voluntary intervention of the French Archaeological Professor & Researcher analyst: Pr J.M Daguebert University du Temps Libre Durance- Provence, Laboratory ArtKéo’N’Stone, Archaeological voluntary unit “Les Caligae d’Hermès” ASCEE 05 Hautes-Alpes (Director P. Pascal), member of the N.E.H.H.A.S company since 2016 (Chairman & Field Director: Dr R.H.G. Whaley)