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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 80    1965  page 78

Excavations at Eccles, 1964: Third Interim Report.
By A. P. Detsicas, M.A., F.S.A. Scot

The outer faces of these walls were roughly finished and rested against the subsoil; on the other hand, the inner surfaces were built with well-dressed ragstones, which had not been rendered. All walls were very solid and well preserved to a height of at least 4 feet 9 inches, but they showed no signs of an entrance into the furnace-room; this must have existed, very probably, at a level higher than preserved, possibly through the north-west wall giving access to the furnace-room from the open courtyard beyond it to the north-west. Presumably, those tending the fire in the furnace would descend into it by some kind of ladder for there was no evidence for any permanent stairs built against any wall of the furnace-room.
   Most of the area of the furnace-room was occupied by the emplacement of the boiler and the testudo. The throat of the furnace was 6 feet inches long and 2 feet 5 inches wide, and it had cheeks built of bonding-tiles set in clay, which had been burnt to the consistency and colour of brick; behind these cheeks, construction was carried out of tiles and ragstone set in bright yellow mortar and bonded with the north-east, south-east and south-west walls of the room (Plate IIIA). The floor of the flue was of opus signinum, which continued below the cheeks so that it is clear that the latter were constructed after the floor;13 a hollow channel had been allowed for in the opus signinum, about 5 inches in width and extending the whole length of the throat, A probable explanation of this channel would be that it was intended to collect any water condensing below the boiler and the testudo, when the furnace was not in use, for conveyance to a shallow, oval-shaped depression cut down into the subsoil through the tiled floor north-west of the flue; this depression was found filled with soot and ash about 1 foot inches away from the mouth of the flue.
   Neither the boiler nor the testudo, or even vestigial remains of either, were recovered, though their existence could be deduced from the traces on their emplacement. The testudo was suspended about 3 feet above the floor of the flue and would be expected to project slightly beyond the south-east wall into the plunge-bath; as it seems very probable that it would not have projected to north-west beyond the top of the courses of bonding-tiles preserved at a higher level over the floor of the flue (about 3 feet) than the rest of the cheeks towards the mouth of the flue (at about 2 feet 6 inches), the length of the testudo would have been little more than 4 feet 8 inches in all. No fragments of the tank survived, but it was doubtless constructed of riveted bronze plates like the surviving example of the Stabian Baths at Pompeii.14 The boiler would have been sited across the throat behind the testudo; its
   13 Further clearance in 1965 has established that the furnace-room had been reconstructed, and that the above description applies only to its latter phase.
   14 Archaeologia, xciii (1949), 176, fig. 3.

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