Broadcast 2 May 2010 | Report available
Roman Piercebridge lies about 200m west of Dere Street (the major Roman road from York to the Antonine Wall) in County Durham. At its heart are the remains of at least three bridges crossing the River Tees. The remains of a civilian settlement (vicus) here date back to the later 1st century AD, and the site became the focus of major military activity from the 180s, although the surviving fort defences date no earlier than the mid 3rd century. Time Team hoped to investigate the bridges, and to trace the remains of a possible early fort at Piercebridge.
The early fort remained elusive. The trenches located a previously unknown area of activity to the north-west of the 3rd century fort, dating to the 2nd century AD. This could have been part of the civilian settlement, although a large area of cobbling suggests a more official or military structure.
To the east of the fort and the present village further remains were found. These included a grave, suggesting that there may have been a cemetery in this area; a cist burial was discovered just to the south-west in 1933. Underwater exploration found a number of timbers to the west of the course of the Roman stone bridge, and a radiocarbon date in the 1st century AD was obtained for an additional line of timber piles to the west of this.
To the south of the River Tees the geophysical survey found the exact route of the earlier alignment of Dere Street, although no further dating evidence was obtained.
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