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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 79    1964  pages 122

Excavations at Eccles, 1963: Second Interim Report.
By A. P. Detsicas, M.A., F.S.A. Scot

Period I: c. A.D. 75-100. (a) The Bath Building
  
Very little was recovered during 1962 to suggest the purpose of the few structures known to antedate Period II. It is quite clear now, however, that some parts of an early bath building could have been recovered under the opus signinum floors of Rooms 20 and 21 where considerations of space and time at the very end of the earlier season of excavation prevented methodical examination at depth.
   A part of this first bath building has now been exposed, but it is certain that much of it still awaits investigation to the west of the 1963 area. It was found partly under the successive structures of Periods II and III but, where its rooms had avoided subsequent destruction, it lay close to the topsoil. The plan of several of its rooms has been completely recovered and presents the normal bath-house plan with one rather unusual feature for a villa, a circular laconicum, Room 32, projecting beyond the main line of the building.
   Room 32. This is a large laconicum, circular2 in plan, except where it meets the north-east wall of the bath building where allowance was made for a doorway. Its wall was 1 ft. 6 in. thick, built of ragstone set in bright yellow mortar, and the room had an internal diameter of 18 ft. Internally, the wall was rendered with bright yellow mortar above the level of the suspended floor only, but no traces remained of any box-tiles; externally, the wall was similarly rendered and finished with a coating of whitewash (Plate I). The laconicum was heated by a hypocaust constructed on a floor of hard yellow mortar aggregate, which was laid on a very solid foundation of mortared ragstone resting directly upon the subsoil; the floor was 2 in. thick and the foundation 1 ft. The suspended floor, built of bridging-tiles none of which was recovered intact, was supported by pilae, consisting mainly of square tiles (9 by 9 by 2 in.) mortared together and rising, at a height of 2 ft. 4 in., to the level of the suspended floor; some larger tiles (of two sizes, 11 by 11 by 2 in., and 16 by 11 by 2 in.) were also used as bases for the pilae. The ragstone wall of the laconicum was interrupted, at a height of 1 ft. 8 in., by three courses of corbelled bonding-tiles, each course projecting a little further inwards so as to afford additional support to the suspended floor at its weakest points.
   The hypocaust was originally served by a stokehole to its southwest. An original flue, 1 ft. 10 in. wide, pierced the wall which, at this point, was neatly finished with courses of bonding-tiles to give it a regular face; the floor of the laconicum was extended beyond the wall into this flue. Both the floor near the flue, the flue-walls and the pilae nearest to it showed evidence of considerable burning. This original flue was subsequently blocked by ragstones mortared to its walls, and the hypocaust was served by a new furnace to the north-west at a
   2 'Ipsumque ad circinum fleri oportere videtur.' Vitruvius, De Architecture V x 5.

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