Roman remains uncovered in Cathedral works

Roman remains uncovered in Cathedral works

Friday 28th April 2017

Fragments of pottery, believed to date from the Roman settlement of Isca Dumnoniorum, were discovered at Exeter Cathedral as part of a project to better understand water drainage around the 900 year old building.

Thought to be examples of imported samian ware (from what is now France) and more local black-burnished ware, the remains were uncovered during borehole drilling on the north side of Cathedral Green.  The work is being carried out under archaeological supervision and is taking place at a number of sites inside the Cathedral and out on Cathedral Green. It follows evidence of rising moisture within the walls of the Cathedral which is causing damage to the fabric of the building and some of its important monuments.

The current programme of works will see the setting up of a piezometric monitoring system within the boreholes to monitor the depth of groundwater.

Chris Sampson is Exeter Cathedral’s Clerk of Works, and has responsibility for the ongoing maintenance and conservation of the historic building. He said:

“For some time now we have noticed that there are signs of salt deposits coming through into the interior of the building itself.  This monitoring system will enable us, over time, to build up a clearer picture of what is happening around this side of the build, and inform decisions about managing or addressing the problem being caused.”

Much of the drainage around the Cathedral dates back to Victorian times. Remedial work was carried out following a survey in 2014, meaning that the present ground water levels are closer to what would naturally be expected through run off and rain fall.

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