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Time Team Series 17: Potted History (Cunetio, Mildenhall, Wiltshire)
Broadcast 23 May 2010
Beyond the ground plan, very little is known of the Roman town of Cunetio, near Marlborough in Wiltshire; only very limited excavations have taken place here in the past. These excavations, together with aerial photographs and an early geophysical survey, showed a street system with stone buildings enclosed by two phases of defences (originally earth, later stone) as well as other buildings outside the walls. In the mid 1970s, the largest coin hoard known from Roman Britain – the ‘Mildenhall Hoard’, comprising over 55,000 coins of the later 3rd century AD - was found immediately south of the town.
Time Team were determined to find out a little more about the nature and development of the town, and opened seven trenches, five within the town, one across the south gate, and one immediately outside the defences. In the north-west corner of the town, part of a substantial, high quality building was uncovered. This building is likely to have consisted of more than a single storey, with a stylish, fully Romanised interior. The remains of a possible mansio (the equivalent of a guest house) in the centre of the town survived less well, although it too had a Romanised interior, and was probably roofed in stone.
A ditch, located to the south of the later Roman stone defences of the town, probably relates to the earlier, earth defensive circuit. Part of the monumental south gate – part of the stone defences - was exposed. Although largely consisting of mortared flint rubble, the south side at least was faced with limestone and Greensand blocks.
Elsewhere, the trenches clearly demonstrated the survival of substantial, stratified archaeological remains, closely corresponding with the evidence from aerial photographs and geophysical survey. Considerable robbing of the main structural stone was evident in all areas of the town, with recent plough damage apparent in some areas.
No further coin hoards were revealed, but just under a hundred individual coins were found, mostly dating to the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Other finds include pottery, animal bone, building material (both stone and ceramic) and metalwork, but beyond the evidence for Romanised buildings there was little evidence for lifestyle (personal items and vessel glass).
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