Bath Quays Waterside

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Bath’s riverside is currently undergoing a major redevelopment aimed at revitalising a previously neglected quarter of the city. As part of these works, Wessex Archaeology was commissioned by Alun Griffiths Ltd. to undertake an archaeological excavation during preliminary flood mitigation and development-enabling works at Bath Quays. The development involves the diversion of a road and ground reduction to widen the towpath on the north side of the river to create a new public space for outdoor performances and recreation.
 
Before the current works began, the site was a rather nondescript strip of land sandwiched between the River Avon and a busy main road. However, documentary research highlighted the fact that during the 18th and 19th centuries this had been a busy quayside, flanked by industrial buildings and tenement housing. This area, informally known as the Avon Street district, had, by the late 19th century, acquired reputation as a notorious slum, which was locally synonymous with poverty, disease, crime and prostitution. Our excavations have uncovered extensive well-preserved remains of the buildings that once flanked the quayside and have revealed evidence of how the area developed from the medieval period onwards.
 
3270 Broad Quay, 1892 (image courtesy of Bath in Time)
The site is situated approximately 100 m to the south of Bath’s Roman and medieval core, in a low-lying and historically flood-prone area. Previous excavations at Southgate produced very little evidence for Roman activity to the south of the town walls, and there is similarly little evidence for activity at Bath Quays during this period.
 
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