Return to Tollgate Farm, 2008
Author: Winston Hollins, Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society
This year's Tollgate dig has given us further evidence, from which we can be clearer about the site's purpose and its size.
The buildings are large, about 8 metres by 6, probably barn-like structures. They cover a larger area than anticipated by the initial magnetometry survey. They all have the same alignment i.e. parallel to the Roman Road and the "boundary ditch", both found in earlier years. The "boundary ditch" may well be the earliest feature found so far.
We are getting hints that the site may originally have been Iron Age. The toggle (see photo, left) found this year is dated to the Iron Age by the British Museum.
It is clear that Roman soldiers occupied the site in the first century A.D. as evidenced by early pottery, the spouted pots in particular (right, and 2005) and the incense cups (Tazza).
At this early period, the site was almost certainly a Mutatio (a relay station where fresh horses and mules could be obtained). The site was then in use for at least 200 years. We have found no evidence of structures after the Roman period and certainly some of the area was returned to agriculture in the Roman period.
Lastly we have a string of pits of unknown use. Why are they spread out across the field? Were they storage pits? Why so deep? Why not concentrated in one area? Perhaps we can answer these questions next year.
Stoke-on-Trent Museum Archaeological Society, November 2010.