29 JulExcavating a Romano-British oven

By the Western edge of the excavation area at Zone 6 of the East Kent Access Road scheme a promising extensive rectangular feature (approx. 10 x 10m), surrounded by a ring ditch, was uncovered. Regarding the large size of the feature and the characterisation stage of the excavations it was decided that we will excavate initially only one metre wide strips of the South-East quadrant. Our choice of slot location appeared to be quite a fortunate one – soon my trowel ‘hit’ the top of an oven wall.

Excavating an oven

Due to fragility of the structure a decision was made to extend the slots allowing for exposure and recording of the whole oven before it deteriorates any further. When fully uncovered, it turned out to be a beautiful piece of work – with a base made of chalk stone arranged in concentric circles and covered at places with a fired clay lining, or surface. On top of that sat fired clay wall remains, now measuring only up to 0.18m. The walls leaning toward the centre suggested the original beehive shape of the oven. The structure – 1.36m in diameter – had its mouth at the North-East, which after the last use was sealed with sandstone slabs and clay. The fire pit was located externally. Both the oven and the feature it was found in – produced a substantial amount of pottery sherds, dating the oven to the Romano-British period.

Usually we don’t have full understanding of the purpose these ovens served. However, regarding lack of slag or pottery in situ, we suppose it was used for processing food – i.e. bread baking. This is an ongoing investigation and we hope to produce more detailed interpretation once the environmental samples have been processed.

Milena Grzybowska

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