Project Description

Excavations at the former County Hospital site, Dorchester have provided a rare opportunity to examine a reasonably large area of the south-western corner of the Roman town of Durnovaria. The results of the excavations have allowed the development of this part of the Roman town to be established more fully. The remains of several buildings, including a late Roman town house complete with fine mosaics, was recovered. Other structures, working areas and probable barns were also identified.

The excavations produced a wealth of artefactual evidence shedding light on the daily lives and activities of the inhabitants of the town. Imported items such as pottery were recovered together with some of the foodstuffs that may also have been brought from the continent. Important evidence for allec or fish sauce was recovered; this is the furthest west it has been found in the Roman Empire and one of only a few examples of this foodstuff from Britain. Other possible imported items include wine or vine fruits, olive oil, grain and lentils. Local produce and commodities were also consumed and used within the town including foodstuffs, livestock and regionally produced pottery and items such as shale. The evidence from previous excavations in the vicinity has also been used to set the results into context.

The excavations generated immense local interest and the open day proved so popular that many people queued for hours for a glimpse of the beautiful mosaics, buildings and artefacts revealed. With this in mind the results of the excavations are presented in the publication in a less formal manner than is usual for archaeological reports and we have included many photographs and images to allow a broader understanding of the archaeology to be conveyed. Technical reports on aspects of the results (selected stratigraphic descriptions), the finds end environmental reports are available on this website.

The excavations were undertaken in 2000-2001 by Wessex Archaeology and were funded by the developers Bentleigh Cross Ltd and monitored by CgMs consulting Ltd.