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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 86    1971  page 29
Excavations at Eccles Roman Villa, 1970: Ninth Interim Report.
By A. P. Detsicas, M.A., F.S.A. Scot

hypocaust; indeed, Room 120 (Plate IIB) had been excavated to a greater depth than Room 119 and a partition wall had been constructed between these two rooms and provided with two flues, each 1 ft. 6 in. (0.45 m.) wide. However, before the construction was completed, this plan seems to have been abandoned in favour of a channelled hypocaust. The deeper excavation for Room 120 was filled in with ragstone rubble and building debris, containing decayed painted wall-plaster, and an opus signinum floor, some 2 in. (0.05 m.) in thickness, was laid over the whole area occupied by these two rooms to form Room 121; in the original Room 119 this floor was laid directly upon the Romano-British ploughsoil which had not been removed to anything like the depth in Room 120. On top of this floor was built a channelled hypocaust: it consisted of two main flues (1 ft. 6 in. (0.45 m.) wide) at right angles to each other, and several secondary flues (1 ft. (0.30 m.) wide), disposed more or less symmetrically over the whole area. The walls of the channels were of clay-bonded bonding- and pila-tiles and showed signs of some burning. The main north-east flue projected into the area of the original Room 120 and opened out into a Y-shape; at the opposite end, it formed an inverted T-junction with another wide flue. Presumably, openings through the channel walls were provided to allow heat to penetrate into the spaces between the two main southwest channels but none of these survived demolition; in fact, very little of the channel walls survived but their position could be accurately established as only where channels had been allowed for was the opus signinum smooth whereas the areas upon which the tiles for the channel walls would have been set were roughened.
   A regular opening through the south-east wall of the hypocaust had been provided for the heat generated in a rather small stokehole located immediately outside this wall; this stokehole must have been in the open air as no enclosing walls were found to suggest a more substantial furnace-room. The stokehole-flue had been lined with chalk and floored with fire-reddened and cracked tiles. A small deposit of wood ash had accumulated in this flue and some soot at the end of the channel immediately opposite the stokehole-flue, but the general impression, gained from the condition of the surviving tiles used to build the channel walls, is that the hypocaust could not have been in use for any great length of time before the end of the villa's life and, in consequence, must be one of the latest structural additions.
   Whatever the intention behind the original construction of this wing when the rear corridor was added to the plan of the house (and the depth below Room 120 does seem to suggest an intended plunge-bath), a likely interpretation of the channelled hypocaust modification is as a corn-drier; it may be also suspected that this use was resorted to in the final period of building when the rear corridor was sub-divided

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