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Archaeologia Cantiana -
Vol. 88 1973
at Eccles Roman Villa, 1972: Eleventh Interim Report.
By A. P. Detsicas, M.A., F.S.A. Scot
trenches provided some evidence for Ditch
XIII (cf. above, p. 75) at its extreme eastern end; the most
south-westerly contained no archaeological evidence.
However, the middle one of these trenches coincided with the
north-eastern face of a feature and, consequently, this trench
was widened to allow for fuller examination which established
the plan of an ornamental basin situated in this area (Plate
This basin had been constructed over the line of the filled-in
Ditch XIII and some subsidence had occurred at the basin's
north corner. The structure, measuring internally 11 ft. 6 in.
by 5 ft. 6 in. (3.45 by 1.65 m.), consisted of a very solid
foundation of roofing-tiles laid directly on the subsoil, with
their flanges upside down and embedded into a layer of yellow
mortar; the wall of the basin was next constructed on top of
this solid raft (Plate IIA): it was 1 ft. (0.30 m.) wide and
built mainly of dressed tufa blocks to an unknown height
though little of the basin's depth appears to have been lost.
The wall was rendered internally with opus signinum, 1
in. (2.5 cm.) thick. Next was laid the floor of the basin,
consisting of opus signinum to an average
thickness of 3 in. (7.5 cm.) and surviving intact apart from
some pitting by frost; the opus signinum had
been shaped to a quarter-round moulding at the junction of
wall and floor, and the whole structure made quite watertight
No dating material was found stratified below this basin which
must clearly belong to the later structural periods of the
villa on the following grounds. Its function is evidently that
of an ornamental garden-pond, almost certainly containing
aquatic plants and fish; its location exactly at the centre of
the courtyard between the villa's two projecting wings makes
this conclusion inescapable and, moreover, shows that the
basin must have been built at the same time as or after the
construction of the south-east wing, certainly after the house
was turned round to face south-west.
These later features consist of lengths of four
ditches. Ditch XII was first found in 19716
and this year was further cut in a new trench at the eastern
corner of the south-east wing extending its known length to
nearly 30 ft. (9 m.). Ditch XIV was 1 ft. 6 in.
(0.45 m.) wide and traced for some 49 ft. 6 in. (14.85 m.).
Running into it is a short length of Ditch XVI of
about the same width. Ditch XV was 3 ft. (0.90
m.) wide and has been traced for some 52 ft. 6 in. (15.75
m.). Ditches XIV and XV obviously merge or intersect in an
unexplored area beyond the most easterly points yet traced.
5 Ibid., lxxxvii
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