Tollgate Farm Roman Site 2004
Author: Winston Hollins, Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society
Tollgate Farm 2004
The resistivity survey had given us a picture of the two ditches of the Roman road going for about 100 metres across the field and then disappearing. This third season had one main aim, to check what happened to the road after this point. In addition, we wanted to see if there were signs of Roman activity down at the stream and to check one or two of the interesting small anomalies on the resistivity survey.
This year we had to contend with enormous quantities of rain (almost monsoon-like at times) and terrific gusts of wind, which had caused havoc to the tent. The society members put up with terrible conditions stoically!
The results were certainly beyond my (and probably anybody else's) expectations. We managed to follow the Eastern ditch all the way across the field. The fill of both ditches were clearly back filled in several places with quantities of pottery, bones and waste material. In other places they were filled with a mixture of soil and clay. The depth of the road beneath the field surface varied greatly, mainly being about 25 to 30 cm, but, in one place, it was over a metre.
There was not a great deal of evidence of activity near the stream. There was a fair amount of Roman pottery in the clay and a possible scatter of pebbles but not enough to be convincing.
The other anomaly checked proved to be too big for a complete investigation. It appeared to be a feature similar to the well or cistern we investigated last year. The fill was more structured than in last year’s site. Also, we think it may be more complete, with less plough damage to the upper parts.
The finds this year were expected to be very limited. In fact, we found huge quantities of pottery of many different types.
We have enough bone for an analysis to be done. Bone is mainly in poor condition but the joints seem to have survived much better than last year’s examples. The most exciting find was a glass imitation nicolo intaglio from the late second or early third century A.D.
All this is pointing to a back filling of features at the start of the third century A.D. We still have no idea what was happening in the area before the abandonment. It is clear that after this point Roman agriculture continued (in one trench the road was covered with 25 cm of Roman plough soil).
We are hoping that a magnetometry survey will give us a chance to locate buildings which must be close by. In addition, further resistivity is to be undertaken at points in the current field and the field on the other side of the road.
Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society, April 2006.