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Chester Amphitheatre Project Blog


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Thursday, July 20

Stepping Into the Past ... A rare survival

On the south-western edge of the excavation a shallow hollow in the pre-Roman ground surface has been uncovered which may indicate the location of a large underlying feature such as a ditch. This hollow appears to have been wet and muddy shortly before it was covered by construction deposits associated with the building of the first amphitheatre as we have found the impressions of footprints that have been pressed in to the pre-Roman ground surface. So far we have been able to identify several small human footprints which may belong to a child or small adult - apparently walking around the hollow in bare feet. Several of the footprints may be animal tracks but identification will require further excavation. This sort of survival is very rare in the archaeological record and is usually only identified on coastal sites such as the Severn estuary or more locally on the shoreline at Formby. We will be taking plaster casts of the best preserved footprints over the next couple of days.

posted by Cheryl Quinn at 10:21



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing that you're finding this sort of evidence so far in land. Shows you how surprising archaeology can be.

3:22 PM, July 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful discovery! But if it's pre-Roman, how does that muddy surface relate to the stone walls surrounding it, and why weren't the footprints obliterated when they were built? Were they cut through that layer, and if so why can't we see the foundation trenches which must have been dug for the walls to be built in?

6:46 PM, July 20, 2006  
Blogger Cheryl Quinn said...

The muddy surface was formed prior to the construction of the stone walls of the amphitheatre - quite possibly only weeks or days before. It appears that prior to any construction work actually beginning on the earliest amphitheatre wall a layer of sandstone and clay was spread over the site rather like a modern stone-chipping formation level as often seen on building sites today. This formation layer sealed the muddy surface and ensured that the footprints were not disturbed by subsequent building work - the footprints almost certainly survived over a greater area but would have been removed by the later foundation trenches of the amphitheatre walls. The foundation trenches were cut through the formation layer, but are not much wider than the stone foundations themselves and are thus not easily discerned.

11:08 AM, July 24, 2006  
Anonymous Stevie said...

You go on holiday and look what happens ! Are you sure they're not the remains of Roman tv crews...???
Brilliant stuff. I look forward to seeing the footprints next week.

6:58 PM, August 02, 2006  

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