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The Romans are coming! A recent exhibition at Experience Barnsley explored the impact of the Roman occupation in the Barnsley region.
We now know that Royston was occupied by this period. An evaluation of the former school site at Midland Road in Royston found that the southern part of the site contained only relatively modern archaeological features.
However, the northern part of the site was found to contain buried archaeological features. No dating evidence was recovered but similarities with other features of this type suggested a possible Romano-British date.
Detailed excavation in the northern part of the site was recommended by SYAS, in advance of redevelopment of the site. This fieldwork was then commissioned by the developer and a large area was investigated.
This showed that the site contained two ditches that intersected at right angles. Roman Grey Ware pottery recovered from one of the ditches enabled it to be dated.
So we now have proof that this area of Royston was divided up by boundary ditches, probably demarking fields, by the Roman period. What we don’t know is exactly when these land divisions were first created.
People travelling along Sheep Bridge Lane at Rossington recently may have been concerned that construction of the new FARRRS link road was impacting on the Roman fort there.
SYAS has been involved in discussions about the construction of the new road, to ensure that archaeology is fully taken into account. Archaeologists have been monitoring the works adjacent to the fort to make sure there was no impact.
Outside the protected area of the fort, archaeologists have been recording in advance of construction works. An earlier archaeological evaluation identified a system of land division of Iron Age/ Romano-British date in some areas of the route.
A programme of detailed excavation and monitoring was then agreed by SYAS. At the western end of the route, a large settlement enclosure was exposed. Internally, 2 beam slots, either side of a possible working hollow were identified. Part of a leather shoe was amongst organic material recovered from the hollow.
Field boundaries attached to the settlement enclosure were also investigated and found to contain very few finds, except for a complete Roman Grey Ware jar located in one ditch fill. This jar was removed for excavation in the laboratory. Unfortunately, it proved to be empty.
Most people today are used to seeing graffiti painted on buildings. What you might not be aware of is that graffiti has been with us for many hundreds of years, and historic graffiti, often scratched rather than painted, can be found in unlikely places.
One such collection, in the nave and south aisle roofs of All Saints’ Church, Wath upon Dearne, was recently surveyed and recorded, by both photography and drawing. The survey was commissioned on behalf of the Parochial Church Council, and the survey report has now been sent to SYAS.
The survey found a vast number of individual items of graffiti, including at least 839 examples of shoes, at least 85 hands and other works, including birds, portraits, figures and inscriptions.
In addition, the roofs preserve an important collection of plumbers’ plaques dating from the late 17th century onwards (historically, anyone working with lead was known as a plumber, even those using it for roofing). Two families of plumbers, the Clarks and the Ridgills, are particularly prominent.
Some of the graffiti, including several elevation sketches of the church, may have been made by those directly involved in repair works on the church, for example, steeplejacks and stone masons - as well as plumbers.
This site, adjacent to what was the Old Bull’s Head on Dun Street, was evaluated by ARCUS in 2008. Development did not go ahead at that time and archaeological work stalled.
When a new scheme was recently proposed, SYAS recommended that further investigation of the site was required and that reporting and archiving should include the earlier evaluation results. An appropriate scheme of work was then agreed by SYAS and the necessary site investigation has now been completed.
The investigation uncovered evidence for a number of courts of back-to-back housing. These were built in the early 19th century and demolished in the early 20th century, presumably as part of wider slum clearances.
Documentary evidence, including in the flood claims relating to the Sheffield flood of March 1864, indicates a mix of residential and workshop use on the site although little direct evidence for this latter use was identified archaeologically.
The site of the Red House beerhouse, at no. 25 Dun Fields, was also located. Post-excavation assessment/analysis of the results of both phases of fieldwork is now to be completed.
Reports detailing all the archaeological work will be added to the Sites and Monuments Record.