Archaeological recording at Acorn Roundabout, Exeter 1988-89 (Exeter archive site 94)

Exeter City Council, Cotswold Archaeology, 2015

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Exeter City Council, Cotswold Archaeology (2015) Archaeological recording at Acorn Roundabout, Exeter 1988-89 (Exeter archive site 94) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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Archaeological recording at Acorn Roundabout, Exeter 1988-89 (Exeter archive site 94)

The Acorn roundabout site lies immediately outside the Roman and medieval South Gate and City Wall and is centred at SX 92160 92250. The excavations were undertaken by Exeter Museums Archaeological Field Unit between October and November 1988 in advance of road alterations.

A series of large circular pits represent the earliest features on the site. Three of the pits were within the area of one of the rooms of the early Roman structures, although this distribution is probably coincidental. Indications of pre-Roman activity in the vicinity may be inferred from the presence in one context of three small sherds of Bronze Age pottery.

Several features of probable Roman military date were encountered which included post holes which may indicate a rectangular structure. A group of features forming the ground plan of a building (building 1) were found in area 2 with dimensions of 9.5 x 5.5 metres. Towards the north-east end of the building there was a trench representing an internal division, possibly with a doorway near the south-eastern side. Due to heavy disturbance by later features, no internal surfaces were found. Other features of Roman military date were found in area 3, including the corner of another building and its associated fence line. The latest features in the Roman military sequence probably represent additions to or re-cuts of existing structural elements.

Evidence for early medieval activity on the site consists of a pit, which would appear to be the earliest feature in this phase, two ditches and a group of stake and post holes, possibly relating to a structure. The pit has been tentatively interpreted as an oven. A large number of rubbish and cess pits were dug in areas 2 and 3 during the medieval period. Three large cess pits and a fourth smaller one were dug at what was probably the rear of a tenement fronting onto Magdalen Street: certainly by the 16th or 17th century, this area formed part of a Magdalen Street property.

The Civil War defences in this area consisted of two ditches running parallel with each other in a zigzagging pattern in front of the South gate. The larger inner ditch was recorded in Area 1 and 2 for a distance of 6m.

After the Civil War, the defensive ditches were infilled and a number of tenement buildings were constructed on site, These comprised a series of brick and stone houses and outbuildings, cobbled yards and garden plots which grew up during the 18th-20th centuries behind the Valiant Soldier Inn after its establishment on the Holloway Street frontage in 1650.

The above information was taken from the report 'Archaeological Recording at Acorn Roundabout, Exeter 1988-89' by J.B.Bedford. The full report is available from the 'Downloads' page.