House 1 lies diagonally to the orientation of the insula and occupies an area of
15.6m by 37m. The Victorian plan shows one large building, with foundations all
recorded as contemporary, divided up into 6 rooms of varying size, and two flanking
corridors. Room 3, in the centre of the building is floored with packed, flint cobbles
through which are cut at least three pits. The walls here are built of well-coursed
flint and, like the flint floor, there are some traces of mortar. One wall (1015)
extends some way to enclose Room 1 to the north-east, but thereafter its remains
appear to be at least partially robbed out. Traces of a tesselated floor resting on
gravel make-up survive in the east corner of Room 2.
As for Room 1, the Victorians
assumed it continued as far as the end wall to the north-east (1553). In fact the
indications from the current programme of excavations are that this is not so and that
the original excavators failed to recognise the robber trench for the north wall to
Room 1. We now know that Room 1 was originally of similar proportions to Rooms 2 and 3.
Unlike the tesselated floor of Room 2, Rooms 4, 5 and 6 revealed traces of surfaces of
crushed tile, perhaps as a form of opus signinum, pressed into the underlying makeup.
There is no indication from the Victorian plan that House 1 was a building with a
complicated structural history and several phases of development. Our excavations to
date have proven this to be the case, with evidence for differing builds and earlier
wall-lines. For example, the continuation south-westwards of the north-west wall
(1184/1154/1151) of Room 3. Although the exact nature of the relationship has yet to
be defined, the continuation is of a poorer build which makes use of flint and reused
tile fragments. The material is not well-coursed and there are no traces of mortar.
The return (1150) which forms the south-western end wall is similarly constructed
although there are traces of a clay layer into which the lowest course of flint and
tile is bedded. While the north-west and north-east walls of Room 6 (1157, 1163) show
evidence of better coursing, the south-east and south-west walls (1156, 1187) are
poorly preserved and clearly cut by later features. The line of the south-east wall of
this room continues north-eastwards as a weakly structured feature of unmortared flint
and reused tile fragments (1745), seldom more than 0.4m in width. The build of this
feature appears to become weaker at its north-east end (1174) where it returns to form
the north-eastern wall of the building (1553). On the north-western side (1165) it has
not been traced more than halfway along the length of the building where it turns (1664)
to meet the north-western wall of Room 4. It apparently continues to the south-west, but
its extent cannot be traced. Puzzling features of the outer wall (1553) are the relative
depth of its surviving remains and the insubstantial nature of its structure. There is
no reason to suppose that its surviving character is very different from what was found
in 1893. Since it is not sufficiently robust to have taken much of a load, we can only
presume that, like the walls forming the southern end of the building, it carried a
timber-frame superstructure. Why the foundations should have been laid at such a depth
when their load-bearing requirement was limited remains unclear. If it were not for
the common alignment with the south-west wall of Rooms 5 and 6, the depth and structure
of the wall would suggest that this wall belonged to a later phase.
House 1 now has a mid-to-late 3rd century terminus ante quem for its abandonment and
robbing, while its earliest phases are likely to belong to the first century AD, if not
the late first century BC. The radiocarbon dates of the complete dog skeleton recovered in
1998 from a pit cut through its foundations give a combined calibrated date of AD 130-260
or AD 280-320 at 95% confidence. This gives confirmation to the mid-to-late third
century date derived from the coins and pottery also recovered from the pit.
Please use this clickable plan of House 1 to find out about
the individual contexts.
Victorian plan of House 1
|House 1: view to the north-east|