36 St Margaret's Street
During October 1991 an intermittent watching brief was maintained at 36 St.Margaret's Street (Thresher's off licence) during the cutting of a deep pit for a new lift shaft. The 2 x 2 m. pit, hand-excavated by building contractors to a depth of 5 m. was located to the rear of the premises some 4m. north-east of the Hawks Lane frontage. Although the size of the lift pit allowed nothing to be analysed in plan an interesting sequence of deposits was observed in section.
At the base of the pit natural deposits of gravel overlain by brickearth were recorded. The surface of the natural brickearth, set some 3.2 m. below the shop floor was sealed by a pre or early Roman topsoil of grey silty loam. Cut from the surface of this deposit was a large pit or well, bearing traces of a former timber lining including some partially decomposed timber planks at its base. The feature was infilled with redeposited brickearth and the ground level artificially raised by the dumping of a 0.7 m. thick mixed deposit of discoloured brickearth and sandy loam yielding late first-century pottery.
Sealing this material was a sequence of clay floors associated with a Roman building. A succession of at least four floors were discerned each being separated by a thin lens of dark silty loam. A thickening ot individual floors over the earlier feature was evident, this no doubt a consequence of subsidence of the fills of the earlier feature during the life of building. No structural remains were identified and no dating evidence was retrieved from the floors. The latest floor was sealed by a loose-textured sandy loam with gravel and pebbles, interpreted as 'tailings' from a nearby street. Levels overlying this deposit were obscured by shuttering and were not recorded.
No. 36 St Margaret's Street occupies a site close to the civic centre of the Roman town, in the northern corner of an insula containing the Theatre. Although the civic centre was probably laid out in the early second century, the presence of a mid to late first-century well may indicate occupation against an early street, perhaps that aligned north-east to south-west, situated to the north of the property. The dumped materials sealing the well and earlier topsoil may best be associated with groundworks accompanying early second-century developments and the establishment of a building occupying the northern corner of a new insula block. The subsequent refloorings of a room within the building suggests that the property survived for a reasonable period with at least part of the complex being taken down and the vacant ground covered with 'tailings' from the adjacent street.