Roman Piercebridge

H. E. M. Cool, 2008

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Dr H. E. M. Cool
Barbican Research Associates
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H. E. M. Cool (2008) Roman Piercebridge [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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This project publishes the results of the excavations at Piercebridge carried out by Dennis Harding and Peter Scott between 1969 and 1981.

Samian pottery illustration from the Roman Piercebridge archive

The site lies at the point where Dere Street, one of the main north/south Roman roads crosses the River Tees (excavated area centring on NGR NZ452115). There is a Roman fort on the north bank, the interior of which is now occupied by the modern village of Piercebridge. To the east is an area of civil settlement in the Tofts Field. South of the river there was further civil settlement along the line of Dere Street and, east of that at Holme House, a native roundhouse developed into one of the most northerly Roman villas known in England.

The sequence uncovered showed that the earliest occupation was at the villa site where occupation spanned the first to late second century period. Settlement in the Tofts Field area started at the end of the first century. The site did not become a military installation until the late second century when the area alongside Dere Street south of the river was also occupied for the first time. The fort whose defences can still be seen today was not built until the mid third century. At that point the occupation in the Tofts Field and south of the river began to shrink. By the fourth century occupation was concentrated in the fort area, continuing into the 6th century at least.

The circumstances of the original excavations and post-excavation work is considered in the overview. The current phase of work started in January 2006 funded through English Heritage by a grant from the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund. The grant was held by Dr. David Mason, Durham County Archaeologist, and the work was managed by Dr Hilary Cool on behalf of Barbican Research Associates Ltd. The work is published as

Cool, H.E.M. and Mason D.J.P. (eds). (2008) Roman Piercebridge: Excavations by D.W. Harding and Peter Scott 1969 - 1981 Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland Research Report 7 (Durham).

The publication is in three parts. The letterpress volume provides the original stratigraphic narratives together with synthetic overviews of the finds and animal bones recovered, and a consideration of what is now known about occupation at Piercebridge. A series of pdf files present all the catalogues, detailed typological reports and illustrations of the finds, together with the archive reports on the animal bones. There is also an Access database with the detailed records of many categories of the finds. The pdf files and the database are available here as downloads.

The archive from the excavations is deposited at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, Co. Durham, DL12 8NP. Telephone 01833 690606. Enquiries about access should be made to

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