We carry out all types of archaeological fieldwork, from preliminary surveys through excavations and building surveys to the production of fully illustrated reports describing the results of our work.
These are written in clear and authoritative terms, but in a way that clients, English Heritage and local authority curators alike will understand. We also ensure that the latest results are communicated fully while we are on site, so that all interested parties are fully aware of discoveries (or lack of them!) and the implications of these.
The role of Cathedral Archaeologist involves providing advice to the Dean and Chapter on any archaeological implications of work they propose – not only in the cathedral but in its grounds (the precinct or close). Very often this advice is followed up by fieldwork, ranging from surveys and watching briefs to excavations. We have carried out many projects of this sort at Rochester Cathedral since 2006, and fully illustrated reports have been written for all of them. The photographs here provide a flavour of this work, and show the sort of fieldwork services we can provide for all our clients.
- The Romans built a defensive wall around their town at Rochester in the 3rd century AD. It continued to exercise a powerful influence on the development of the city for many centuries, and formed the southern boundary of the Cathedral precinct until the 13th century. This photograph shows the Roman wall with the Cathedral church rising behind it to the left.
- The isolated nature of this stretch of wall meant that it had been neglected for many years, and its condition became a cause for concern. We therefore carried out investigations in 2010 to determine what conservation would be needed. This annotated photograph shows that we were able to prove which sections were original Roman work, and which were later – often by more than a thousand years!
- The installation of a disabled toilet in a room on the south side of Rochester Cathedral required new water and drainage supplies around the Cloister, an important and archaeologically sensitive area. We therefore kept a very close eye on the trench dug in 2009-10, excavating parts of it ourselves. Here a late medieval tiled pavement has been exposed on the west side of the cloister.
- The same excavation is shown in more detail here, with the original Roman facing stones of the wall intact. We were surprised at how well the facework had survived here.
- This photograph shows one of our excavations against the outer face of the Roman wall, again with the Cathedral in the background.
- Our biggest surprise came on the other side of the all, ie within the medieval precinct. Here we discovered a previously unknown door, probably of 13/14th-century date, emerging into the precinct from a building that had been erected against the outside of the Roman wall. This is unlikely to have happened before the precinct was extended in the 1220s. The door was of very fine quality, suggesting that the building it served was of some importance. It may have been the residence of the Infirmarer, the monk who was in charge of the Cathedral’s hospital.
- Elsewhere in the Cloister we found rubble layers from the demolition of the Cloister following Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries. The rubble included several near-complete 13th-century encaustic floor tiles. Three of these are shown here, each with a different type of decoration. These can provide an idea of how entire floors might have looked in the medieval Cloister.
- We also found two parallel medieval stone walls on the south side of the cloister, one of which is shown here beneath the red and white scale. The walls were probably part of a covered walkway to the Refectory.