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Archaeologia Cantiana -  Vol. 86    1971  page 34
Excavations at Eccles Roman Villa, 1970: Ninth Interim Report.
By A. P. Detsicas, M.A., F.S.A. Scot

abandoned; for not only were its floors removed but also a hearth, was sited within Room 89.16 Though the pottery recovered in the soot and ash deposits associated with this hearth as well as an accumulation of pottery on the tessellation in Room 103 make it clear that this is a very late development, its dating is not yet definitely established. It would be premature to suggest that the rest of the house had been abandoned by that time; for, alternatively, the hearth and associated pottery deposits could point only to a change in the function of this part of the house and removal of the living rooms to another. It is clear, however, that during this final period the life of the villa continued on a rather reduced scale; it is not impossible that this is a direct consequence of the troubled conditions prevailing after A.D. 367.
   The questions of the anomalous early foundation of the villa and original ownership still remain unresolved. In the latter case, it can now be tentatively suggested that the change in the orientation of the house and its contemporary extensive additions may be the only surviving evidence not only of its increased prosperity but also of a change in ownership.
   The final question is posed by the cemetery: it could be associated with the estate at a time of decline, a poor, ill-organized sub-Roman cemetery as at Cirencester, the surviving evidence of people still clinging to the decaying villa;17 on the other hand, it could be argued that these burials, with little attention to the customary ritual of burial in individual graves, with or without grave furniture, clearly denote the occurrence of many simultaneous deaths and the consequent necessity for a rather rapid interment. The ages and sexes of these inhumations as well as the total absence of any items of military equipment preclude any warlike incident, and the only other alternative that will fit the excavated evidence is that these burials, allowing for the fact that the full extent of the cemetery is still to be ascertained, are the result of a catastrophic event such as an epidemic disease.
   16 Arch. Cant., lxxxiii (1968), 47.
   17 I am indebted to Professor S. S. Frere, M.A., F.B.A., F.S.A., for this reference.

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