Excavation at St Catherine's Almshouses, Exeter 1987 (Exeter archive site 89)

Exeter City Council, Cotswold Archaeology, 2015

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Exeter City Council, Cotswold Archaeology (2015) Excavation at St Catherine's Almshouses, Exeter 1987 (Exeter archive site 89) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1035226

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Excavation at St Catherine's Almshouses, Exeter 1987 (Exeter archive site 89)

In 1987-8, excavations were undertaken by Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit on the site of St Catherine's Almshouses and the adjacent property in advance of reconsolidation and landscaping. These elucidated further the plan of the north-east range of the Roman house and also determined the structural sequence which preceded it.

The earliest activity on the site was represented by the constructions of the rampart and two ditches of the first-century Roman legionary fortress. The outer ditch remained open until the later second century and was probably infilled only when the town earthwork defences were constructed in the last quarter of the second century.

While the outer ditch was still open, a new street was laid out immediately outside it, this was resurfaced on a number of occasions. The street remained in service after the filling of the ditch, which was directly overlain by a substantial timber building. The building was modified and rebuilt on at least one occasions before falling derelict, when the whole site was covered with dumps of domestic refuse. It was from above these dumps that the stone town house was constructed.

The house is known to have possessed at least two ranges; excavation concentrated on the north-east range beneath St Catherine's Almshouses, the north-west range beneath Catherine Street having been noted only in the watching brief.

The three fragmentary mosaic floors from the St Catherine's building form an interesting group, a previously unknown fragment of Roman corridor mosaic was uncovered by the Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit which was subsequently lifted and displayed in the Royal Albert Memorial Museum. The St Catherine's mosaics are discussed in the report available from the 'Downloads' page.