Fieldtrip to Cawthorn Camps and Blansby Park

Cawthorn Roman Camps

On 17 May, 22 participants in the short course, Introduction to Archaeology,  made a field visit to Cawthorn Camps and Blansby Park, led by Andrew (Bone) Jones. The Roman site at Cawthorn has been known for a long time and was excavated in the 1920s by Ian Richmond.  There are four massive enclosures, one a definite fort, one (a large, coffin-shaped area) probably an earlier fort or even an Iron Age enclosure, and two probably built as practice camps to keep the soliders occupied. Most are believed to date from the late 1st or early 2nd century. All are surrounded by impressive banks and ditches, seen clearly under modern management by the National Park, as scrub and bracken growth are controlled. As the four enclosures on the site were all thought to be Roman, Richmond assumed that all finds there dated from the same period.  However, recent work by Peter Wilson of English Heritage has revealed evidence for post-Roman occupation, too, including remains of several Anglo-Saxon houses.

The ditches and banks of the main fort

The party looking at one of the 'practice camps'

PLACE members waving at a train passing the Blansby Park site

After lunch, we went to Blansby Park, where Bone has been conducting a research project for several years.  The Roman theme continued here, as remains of a Roman villa complex were found, including fragments of mosaics, pottery and a hypocaust (probably to heat a bath-house). Although there is almost nothing to see on the surface today, the site was probably grander than the villa at Beadlam, east of Helmsley. The site was later part of a deer park within the Royal Forest of Pickering. The visit rounded off a very successful and enjoyable short course.

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