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Tiles and a Roman Brooch!

Julie, our finds expert, hghlights some of the great artefacts uncovered so far:

A quick update on finds. We’re continuing to find large amounts of building materials: roof slates, ceramic crested ridge tiles in white and red fabrics, mortar, white wall plaster, brick, apparently structural ironwork and floor tiles. Most of the floor tiles are medieval with two colour or line impressed designs but a few fragments are from large square tiles which are possibly late 15th or early 16th in date. These tiles have two types of design: one is  line impressed with floral (daisy like) designs similar to those found at the 25 Bridge St excavations in 2001, the other  has unglazed relief moulding  and is similar to tiles found associated with the redesign of the west entrance of Chester Cathedral in the early Tudor period.

Some of the medieval designs are types that have appeared in previous seasons a griffin and the remains of this stylised lion’s head (14th century):

These tiles are possibly from the ecclesiastical buildings that formed the precinct of St John’s Church perhaps even the buildings that Cholmondeley acquired at the Dissolution for his townhouse. The mortar floor in the western end of the site uncovered last year may be the foundation for a tiled floor.

Back to the demolition debris and bricks; despite the earlier postings the bricks from the site are potentially quite interesting. The earliest bricks so far from Chester were found in a 16th century cess pit at 25 Bridge St and many of the bricks from the Park look like these. At this time bricks appear to be only being used for hearths and chimneys so if the brick hearth or fireplace belonged to Cholmondeley’s post-Dissolution house then we could have found one of the earliest in-situ brick structures in Chester.

Quite a wide range of pottery has been found including some residual Roman and medieval wares but the majority are of 16th and 17th century date and include Cistercian-type ware cups, Midland Purple-type ware jars, imported Beauvais earthenware and Rhenish stoneware, blackware and yellow ware.

As you might already know three bone dice were all found in the same context, these all appear to have the same configuration of dots which regularly appear on dice found in London in 16th/17th century and later deposits (see Geoff Egan’s Finds Research Group datasheet 23); it has been suggested that perhaps dice production was being regulated by this time and hence the standardisation of the dot configuration. Clay tobacco pipes with bowls dating to the first half of the seventeenth century are also being found, some of them stamped with makers marks but none are initials previously recorded in Chester. Then of course there are the musket balls which are still being found by the students or by Colin on the spoil heap.
An unusual find last week was an amber bead, it was found with some 16th/17th artefacts and may well date to that period as amber beads have been found elsewhere in early post-medieval contexts.

 So the evidence suggests that we are still dealing with demolition deposits of the Civil War or just after.

However today’s star find is a bit earlier, an enamelled Roman brooch of possible mid 1st – late 2nd century date; it is a residual find from an early post-medieval layer on the northern edge of the site (ok it was actually found on the spoil heap – the ground was a bit hard today and the weather very hot so it escaped notice as it was shovelled into the wheel barrow).

As you can see it is in quite a fragile condition but the form a plate or disc with circular projecting lugs and a central projecting stud is quite clear. Alternating squares of blue and red and white enamel can be seen circling the central stud.