The Dunster Castle Mosaics

Dunster Castle in west Somerset, is one of three Wessex Norman motte and bailey castles now owned by the National Trust. Their 11th century designers all used natural hills. Each was a strategic location but history changed them.. only Dunster has remained a residence through 1000 years.. a grand mansion house, impressive in scale and outline, high above the road into Exmoor.

1754 painting2

1754 painting of Dunster’s dramatic setting on display in the Castle

In south Somerset, Montacute Castle, on St Michael’s Hill , is now only visible as earthworks under trees. It ended its military life in the 12th century when the land was given to Montacute Priory.

Corfe Castle thrived as a royal castle, particularly in the 13th century, but had become old fashioned by Tudor times. Elizabeth I sold Corfe and it became a rich family’s trophy house.. They backed the King (the losing side) and so in 1646 it was made uninhabitable. Now it’s a craggy ruin.

Dunster is different.. It survived the turbulent years of the English Civil War. It progressed.. and was developed during the 18th and 19th centuries.. complete with stables, outbuildings designed parkland, gardens and summerhouses.

And so it was… that last August I took the long and winding road from Taunton to Minehead in search of a Dunster mosaic.

Don’t get me wrong… these are pebble mosaics not Roman ones .. but they are intricate designs, hidden and poorly understood.

The thing about Dunster Tor is that it’s got unstable slopes. The paths and access road, spiraling up the steep hill to the Castle’s front door, keep slipping away.

I arrived at the right time, morning tea-break in the bothy, and then Robin the Head Gardener guided me up the hill with drawing board, camera, notebook and measuring tapes.

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Starting to clear the overgown path below the Castle. 

A busy summer day, many visitors enjoying the sunshine but I was shown down a lost path. Closed because of health and safety. It doesn’t go anywhere now. After about 30m, it stops abruptly at a steep slope, where the old route has tumbled down the hill.

Robin found the spot and pulled some creeper plants which had grown across the abandoned path. There, was a pattern of pebbles set in a hard white mortar.

He wished me well and left me to it ..and that was my home for the day.. shaded by the bushes and tall plants and all around me the voices of happy holiday people walking along other paths. Nearby but out of sight.

The path had been cut into the hillside. On the uphill side, I pulled back the greenery and found the red sandstone blocks of the revetment wall. Where the path met the wall there was a heap of soil and roots. I moved the vegetation… and just above the mosaic surface were fragments of plaster and pieces of brick and slate.

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The pebble mosaic running under the revetment wall.

There were also two blocks of stone joined together and forming an 120 degree angle as though they once formed the corner of a polygonal building. The revetment wall had been built above this corner and the mosaic ran up to it….The archaeological sequence .. first the stone corner, then the pebble floor built against it and then, at a later date, the revetment wall for the path built above them.

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Now it was time to clean back from the wall and reveal the pattern of the white pebbles. It was edged with a curving fan of long, pitched, red-brown stones. Then there were zig-zag patterns of long grey stones among the white pebbles. In the centre of each zig and zag, was a rosette of long stones with a pebble in the middle. Beyond that and further downslope there were interlocking arcs of grey stones dividing up the white pebbles…but then I ran out of path.

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The stone rosettes 

Slabs of the mosaic had  fractured and tipped down slope and then had been covered and resurfaced in the 1970s to repair the path and make it horizontal again.

Really good mortar… it held the pebbles fast as the floor cracked and slipped away down the hill.

By the end of the day I’d uncovered about half the surviving semi-circular design. Originally, it must have been about 5m in diameter but ….how old was it and what period in the Castle’s long history did it belong to?

I’ve been writing up the report and the answers are not easy to find.. definitely 18th or 19th century but surely we can do better than that.

There are two known Dunster mosaics. The other one, on the north side of the castle, was built against the 15th century gatehouse. This floor design is a series of concentric pebble petals and was carefully uncovered and drawn in the 1990s. Robert the excavator concluded that the mortar used in the floor was a kind of ‘Roman’ cement and was therefore at least earlier 19th century in date.

The one I had revealed was on the south side of the Castle and although it had a different design, the mortar and types of stone were similar. There is no reason to doubt that they are contemporary and part of the same period of garden design.

Dunster Castle has such a dramatic scenic profile: it has been drawn, painted and mapped many times since the early 18th century.

Changes usually take place when there is money and the Luttrell family (the owner occupiers of Dunster from the 1404-1976) didn’t always have large amounts of spare money.

In the early 18th century, Dorothy Luttrell had cash to spend and used it to redesign the gardens. A drawing of Dunster in 1735 shows a white building in the area where I drew the mosaic. There is a painting dated 1754 which also shows the building. Is this the building which covered the mosaic. There’s no similar structure for the north pebble floor and the the type of mortar doesn’t work for such an early date. ‘Roman cement’ was invented by James Parker in 1798 and is unlikely to have been used at Dunster until the early 19th century.

18th century

The early 18th century painting at Dunster showing a little white building on the left side of the Castle in the area of the pebble floor.

Henry Fownes Luttrell 1747-1780 had money and lived at Dunster much of the time as did his son John 1780-1816 but the next owners lived mainly in London and the Castle went into decline.  Then, in 1867, George Luttrell inherited and took the place in hand. He commissioned fashionable architect, Anthony Salvin, to design a gothic revamp for the place.

The surviving later 19th century photos maps and plans give no hint that the mosaics were created at this time.

However, they may have been designed and seen for just a few years and any covering pavilion or summer house building may have been a light timber framed structure quickly removed.

My best bet… given the type of mortar …and the occupation history of the Luttrell family, is that the floors were commissioned by John Luttrell before 1816… can’t prove it though.

Unfortunately William Turner’s painting of 1811 shows nothing and neither does the tithe map of 1840. But they were  not created to show garden detail….

1840 Dunster

Dunster’s Tithe Map 1840

so I must hope for a future researcher who one day.. at Taunton.. at a table in the Somerset County Record Office…working through deep pile of papers in the Dunster Archive, will suddenly alight on the conclusive document ….I hope he or she spots it.

 

Day 12 – the last hurrah

The last day is upon us, Martin is on site at the crack of dawn to get on with recording the trenches, while its quiet. When we get to site he has exposed more of the large stone in the Buckeye tree trench and enlists our help to lift it to see if it is carved. It appears to be shaped and shows signs of  wear from possible foot fall. Martin will look at it in relation to the rest of the trench and surrounding walls, so more later.

When moved the shaping of the stone is clearer. the edge at the top of the picture is smoother and angled down slightly. There is also an area in the bottom right that looks like a square area has been cut out.

When moved the shaping of the stone is clearer. The edge at the top of the picture is smoother and angled down slightly. There is also an area in the bottom right that looks like a square section has been cut out.

A side view of the stone, the sloping edge is on the left

A side view of the stone, the sloping edge is on the left

While everyone else started the task of back-filling the trenches, Carol finished the mosaic trench excavation, and Fay and Rob headed for the bath house trench looking for the floor level.

Back filling comenses

Back-filling commences

The back-filling produced one last find. Max, not to be out done by his Dad, Steve the finder of the key, found this object still found in may shops but more expensive now 🙂

An old Maltesser packet costing 1 shilling/5p so datable to about 1972

An old Maltesers packet costing 1 shilling/5p so datable to about 1972

Fay and Rob came up trumps! The floor of the hypocaust phase of the bath house room we have been excavating was found. The pilae are each sat on a large limestone slab which then sits on a very hard mortar floor. There is often nothing better than finding a good floor surface!

Three pilae with a box flue tile (bottom left of the picture) the lovely hard mortar floor inbetween

Three pilae with a box flue tile (bottom left of the picture) and the lovely hard mortar floor in between

Two other areas were excavated to check the floor carried on at the opposite end of the trench and it did

Two other areas were excavated to check the floor carried on at the opposite end of the trench, which it did

Once Martin had finished his recording of the floor and sections (sides) of the trench it was time to put back all the soil we had just spent two weeks digging out!

Martin taking some levels in the bath house trench

Martin taking some levels in the bath house trench

The spoil heap now you see it....

The spoil heap: now you see it….

....now you don't!

….now you don’t!

It only remains to thank all our wonderful volunteers especially our core team, Rob, Fay, Carol, Alex, Peter and Harry. So until next year its au revoir Chedworth Villa, thank you for making us so welcome and providing the Wows!

And finally .....

And finally …..

Day 11 – 21 today, 21 today…..

The last full day of digging as dawned and its all hands to the pump to get to the bottom of the bath house and gather the last ounce of information from all the trenches.

Eileen set to work in the Buckeye tree trench next to the cross passage ‘buttress’ her task was to find out what was happening next to the wall were the soil changed colour.

Eileen cleaning the last of the upper dark soil from the trench

Eileen cleaning the last of the upper dark soil from the trench

Eileen soon popped up to alert us to the answer,  a very large stone in the corner where the ‘buttress’ meets the corridor wall of the north range.

A very happy Eileen

A very happy Eileen

The top of the large stone on the right of the picture, with the 'buttress' wall to the right of the stone

The top of the large stone on the right of the picture, with the ‘buttress’ wall to the right of the stone

Carol was joined by John and Les in the mosaic trench to finish checking if the mosaics were in good condition.

Les enjoying revealing mosaic after a couple of days in the sticky clay Nymphaeum tench

Les enjoying revealing mosaic after a couple of days in the sticky clay Nymphaeum trench

Once again we travel past the bath house trench (more later :-)) up to the Nymphaeum  trench and Peter who has been gallantly digging through the sticky clay to find the  probably roman culvert from the Nymphaeum  spring. It looks like all his hard work has been successful, under the three metal pipes the wall continues and seems to be forming the sides of a stone culvert.

Peter determined to reach the roman culvert

Peter determined to reach the roman culvert

The probable roman stone culvert wall to the right of the pipes

The probable roman stone culvert wall to the right of the pipes

Now back down the steps to the bath house trench, were Fay and Rob are working hard to get to the bottom of the hypocaust pilae (the pillars that the floor sat on, so the hot air could circulate around)  and find what kind of floor is under them.

Rob and Fay working round the pilae to find the floor

Rob and Fay working round the pilae to find the floor

They were joined in the trench by our colleague Claudine, a National Trust archaeologist from Wales.

Claudine happy to be back in a trench digging

Claudine happy to be back in a trench digging

Steve and Max returned to give us a hand back filling. We were not ready to do any, so Claudine who needed to stretch her legs offered to let them dig the bit she was doing. Steve went first and within minutes had found a wonderful object under a piece of flue tile.

A roman Key next to another piece of flue tile

A roman Key next to another piece of flue tile

 

A well deserved find Steve, please don't feel guilty Claudine has forgiven you I am sure :-)

A well deserved find Steve, please don’t feel guilty Claudine has forgiven you I am sure 🙂

So the day ended with a fantastic find and Rob and Fay are poised above the floor. Half a digging day left, so it’s an early night for all.

Day 10 – Wow!

Two full digging days left, another hot day, the press coming and lots of roman specialist visiting to see what we have found. Our wonderful volunteers put their heads down and delivered the goods.

In the sticky clay trench next to the Nymphaeum Les and Peter carried on uncovering the water pipes, the lead one looks very Victorian rather than roman and seems to be diving deeper than the iron ones. No sign of any roman culverts yet.

Les and Peter managing to work through the sticky clay, the lead pipe is the nearest pipe curving downwards

Les and Peter managing to work through the sticky clay, the lead pipe is the nearest pipe curving downwards

Harry swapped place with Carol and carried on finding a rough wall in the trench behind the north bath house. This trench is nearly finished as it has provided some answers to the questions that dictated its position.

Harry happy with is work

Harry happy with is work

Moving past the north bath house trench, saving the best till last 🙂 we find the mosaic trench opened up yesterday. Carol has experience digging the mosaics so was put in charge of revealing a lot more, and checking the wall that joins the cross passage corridor. Jeannette and Mike joined her on the quest and as you can see found the white and red border just like we found in  the opposite  corner a few years ago.

Jeannette uncovering the second red band

Jeannette uncovering the second red band

Its great to share the joy of archaeology and we were very happy to provide a little digging experience for one of our regular visitors Mike

It’s great to share the joy of archaeology and we were very happy to provide a little digging experience for one of our regular visitors Mike. Great job Mike

Oh! the next trench behind the buttress under the Buckeye tree again provided a wow!  Kerry and Jackie were tasked with removing the dark layer in this trench, Martin had already removed this at one end and found a cut line, were one side is lighter and more yellow than the other. He found some pottery including part of a mortarium- for grinding ingredients for cooking. This trench had already produced the large roman coin and  now produced a very small roman coin! Kerry did a great job spotting this small minim especially with martin watching!

Kerry in the white hat just after her find. Jackie and Kerry being very careful to check their spoil before it goes in the bucket

Kerry in the white hat just after her find. Jackie and Kerry being very careful to check their spoil before it goes in the bucket

The coin –  dates to the 270s on fist look, we had three roman coin specialist on site today, including one who was a visitor from the Netherlands. It’s so small the picture is a bit blurry and I could not hold the camera still enough.

The coin - the spiky crown is know as a radiate

The coin – the spiky crown is known as a radiate

Now back to the bath house trench were the guys have been working hard in the hot conditions to get to the bottom of the rubble and plaster, to find if there is a floor from the earlier 2nd century room. Rob found a large iron object which looks like a wall tie of some kind but when lifted it appears to be more interesting but we will have to get it x-rayed to see its original shape.

Rob's iron object

Rob’s iron object

Last but not least ….Fay had been working for a few days digging past a large stone that would not budge and was in the way. She had found a few large building stones already and thought this would be the same. But it soon showed it was out of the ordinary as she removed more of the rubble layer. I think the pictures say it all but just in case here is what every one exclaimed WOW!!

A view from above

A view from above

A side view of the piece of column

A side view of the piece of column

The last full digging day looms and as the law of archaeology proclaims everything is found on the last day…………..

Day 8 and 9 – Plaster, plaster everywhere and some iron and mosaic!

Due to technical difficulties it’s a bumper edition of the blog 🙂 Day 8 turned into a day of recording, with walls and sections to draw in some of the smaller trenches and the other trenches that are still being dug, had a lovely clean up for photos. Not a lot of fresh digging was done and that that was involved more plaster and ‘little cubes of loveliness’ aka tesserae.

Lovely colourful wall plaster

Lovely colourful wall plaster

Day 9 was an early start as some filming was being done for a documentary about the National Trust. We also had a small section of turf to start lifting to see if there was any mosaic under the turf next to the main north range corridor. We started with a couple of turfs being removed to see what depth the hoped for mosaic was at. Hurray it was there, large whitish and smaller white tesserae of the border of the main entrance room. It did not survive across the whole piece we did but hopefully we will have time to check a larger area.

The small area of mosaic next to the fresh hold stones of the north range corridor

The small area of mosaic next to the threshold stones of the north range corridor

In the north bath house trench loose tesserae hindered the digging, we ended the day with three seed trays piled high with them. The painted wall plaster is still being found, but with no time to check each piece we are waiting for our finds cleaners to have the eureka! moment when they clean of the mud and a face or animal stares back.

A lump of mortar with the ghost lines of the tesserae that have fallen off and lie in the hole it came from

A lump of mortar with the ghost lines of the tesserae that have fallen off and lie in the hole it came from

We have had our first metal objects from the bath house trench a couple if T shaped and L shaped nails/brackets, there are also very small fragments of probable knife blades as well.

L shaped iron object 'a very fine example of its type' as we say when not very sure of what it is!

L shaped iron object ‘a very fine example of its type’ as we say when not very sure of what it is!

More metal was found in the Nymphaeum in the form of water pipes, there were three next to each other, two iron ones and a lead one. Sadly all look to be 20th century. But tomorrow the guys in the trench will be digging around and down to find if the original roman culvert is under these pipes.

Harry cleaning the pipes so we can record them

Harry cleaning the pipes so we can record them

Carol has been slogging away often on her own in the trench below the Nymphaeum one, just behind the wall of the bath house. She has been looking for walls and may have a new one to record. Her best find today was part of an iImbrex which is the curved tile that sat on the join between tegula, the large clay tiles of the roof.

Carol happy with her large piece of imbrex

Carol happy with her large piece of imbrex

We had a treat for lunch, Sue the historic en-actor set up her roman kitchen and we were able to sample her roman creations from bread salad to sweet toast and something with the fish sauce they fermented called garum all very tasty 🙂

Sue and her yummy tempations

Sue and her yummy temptations

Tune in tomorrow to see if we finally find the floor in the north bath house ….

 

 

 

 

Its that time of year again…. Chedworth

As we gather our tools and oil our joints, ready for this years season of digging at Chedworth, one of our lovely property staff, Nicki, has baked a cake! It features the dig a few years ago when we found the mosaic next to the north bath house. There are even figures of archaeologists, guess who! 🙂

Nicki's wonderful cake

Nicki’s wonderful cake

We start the excavations at Chedworth this year on Monday 15th August for two weeks, so watch out for daily updates or better still pop in and see us.

Chedworth Thoughts on Room 24

A bit of a gap since the excavation.. and look how nice the weather is now.

It’s always good to try to sum up our findings. So here are some thoughts on Room 24

The headlines of the dig were good but the detail is in the relationships between contexts. This is the essential less engaging bit of archaeology, working out the story, finding the evidence within the archaeological stratigraphy.

Things are not necessarily clear cut and decisive but if something lies on top of something else or cuts it or sits against it… then it is later .. and if the thing is cut through or built over or buried by something then it is earlier .. everything gets a number and a context sheet to create an ordered approach …to enable us to tease out the sequence of events.

There are still many unknowns but it is good to fit pieces together and raise questions. Our ideas may be disproved at a later date.. particularly once the finds are cleaned and processed and the specialist analysis is done ..but it is good to set up a hypothesis even to enable it to be shot down to create something better and closer to the truth.

Room 24 on our first day before we lifted the turf.

Room 24 on our first day
After the mosaic discovery in 25b last year we thought there was a possibility that the adjacent Room 24 might have another. We confirmed that the floors of the North Range corridor and 25b were at a lower level and the rooms leading off them were reached by steps over hypocausts and were at a higher level. Their floors had collapsed long ago.
This year we found fragments of mosaic below the turf which were probably part of Room 24’s fallen floor.

[caption id="attachment_3209" align="alignnone" width="660"]Trench E, the apse of room 24. Very little archaeology survived. The Victorians had built four courses of stone on rubble. No sign of the Roman wall it is supposed to have followed and no mosaic at this level. Though small chunks were found which may have fallen into the hypocaust as the raised floor failed and the mosaic collapsed between the stone pilae. Count 3 20cm long stripes in from the top of the ranging pole and you'll see a mosaic fragment at the edge of the trench. Trench E, the apse of room 24. Very little archaeology survived. The Victorians had built four courses of stone on rubble. No sign of the Roman wall it is supposed to have followed and no mosaic at this level. Though small chunks were found which may have fallen into the hypocaust as the raised floor failed and the mosaic collapsed between the stone pilae. Count 3 20cm long stripes in from the top of the ranging pole and you’ll see a mosaic fragment at the edge of the trench.

A couple of stone pillars which supported the floor had been left in position and early photographs show they were part of the Victorian display of the villa. In 1963, Sir Ian Richmond had retained them as part of his interpretation. We found the packed plaster foundations of 10 more of them, regularly and closely spaced. The layout of the stone pillars would have been like those in nearby Room 26.

The stone pilae on display in Room 26 would be like the arrangement in 24.

The stone pilae on display in Room 26 would be like the arrangement in 24.

So no surviving mosaic in 24 but another objective was to take up Sir Ian Richmond’s 1963 concrete to see what he based his interpretation on.

Room 24 First day. After we'd cleaned Sir Ian's 1963 concrete interpretation of part of the 2nd century baths. The site of our trench D. Note the stone pillars placed within the room top left and middle right. These show where the 4th century floor above the hypocaust was. They show that the floor was at the same level as Room 21 which can be seen at the top right hand edge of the picture.

Room 24 First day. After we’d cleaned Sir Ian’s 1963 concrete interpretation of part of the 2nd century baths. The site of our trench D. Note the stone pillars placed within the room top left and middle right. These show where the 4th century floor above the hypocaust was. They show that the floor was at the same level as Room 21 which can be seen at the top right hand edge of the picture.

Beneath the concrete was 1960s backfill but gradually we peeled off the clay to reveal the early walls. Richmond had created a hole in the Victorian rebuilt wall and put a concrete kerb lintel over it to demonstrate a hypocaust stoke-hole to heat the 2nd century bath. On either side he marked out the walls of the stoke-hole.

First day showing Sir Ian Richmond's interpretation in Room 24. The reddened walls below the concrete matched the alignments of his reconstruction of a 2nd century heating stoke hole except the kerbed grass squares in front which we could not relate to the buried archaeology.

First day showing Sir Ian Richmond’s interpretation in Room 24. The reddened walls below the concrete matched the alignments of his reconstruction of a 2nd century heating stoke hole except the kerbed grass squares in front which we could not relate to the buried archaeology.

Our trench D uncovered the south side and we found the walls as he had shown them, burnt red. All these early walls have their stones burnt red. We saw them in 2010 in the West Range and Sir Ian thought that the South Range had been burnt down and then rebuilt. Perhaps an early catastrophic fire that spread throughout the villa rather than just heat from a hypocaust.

We found that an earlier stoke-hole had been filled in and blocked by the wall that formed the stoke-hole later interpreted by Richmond.

Last day: Room 24 D. In the corner of the room (centre) is the stone pila demonstrating where the floor of the room was in the 4th century.The tops of present walls rebuilt in the 1860s show where the heated mosaic floor would once have been. Sir Ian Richmond fixed the position of the pila by surrounding it with concrete in 1963 (we left some of the concrete in place). To the right the archaeological trowel is placed on an offset which is the footing of the original Roman wall. This lies across a 2nd century wall. The stones are reddened as though burnt. Directly below the trowel, and under the offset, the mortar is yellow and it is capped by a clay tile. On either side the walls are heat burnt and curving. This is a blocked hypocaust stoke hole. The wall burnt red and running left from this covers this blocking and is therefore later. Left of this is another tile and flue entrance though this time not blocked. The wall of the stoke-hole is a one-sided revetment wall and runs back towards the later Room 24 east wall and ends at a large stone preserved in the later wall line (this pre-dates the stoke-hole I think and is the earliest feature). Now we can see what Sir Ian was interpreting.

Last day: Room 24 D. In the corner of the room (centre) is the stone pila demonstrating where the floor of the room was in the 4th century.The tops of present walls rebuilt in the 1860s show where the heated mosaic floor would once have been. Sir Ian Richmond fixed the position of the pila by surrounding it with concrete in 1963 (some has been left in place). To the right the archaeological trowel is placed on an offset which is the footing of the original Roman wall. This lies across a 2nd century wall. The stones are reddened as though burnt. Directly below the trowel the mortar is yellow and it is capped by a clay tile. On either side the walls are reddened and curving. This is a blocked hypocaust stoke hole. The reddened wall running left from this covers this blocking and is therefore later and left of this is another tile and flue entrance though not blocked. The wall of the flue runs back towards the later wall and ends at a large stone preserved in the later wall line (this pre-dates the stoke-hole I think and is the earliest feature). Now we can see what Sir Ian was interpreting.

Room 24 of the 4th century villa, used the south wall of this 2nd century room and built off its foundations. However, most of the standing walls we see today are Victorian and later interpretations of what was found in the 1860s. In fact the apse of Room 24 seemed to be four courses of Victorian built stone based on no surviving Roman foundations. I expect there are traces under the wall somewhere..I hope so.

Before all this there seems to have been another earlier wall made of large blocks of stone. The evidence survives as a robber trench that crosses 24 from east to west with a distinctive large stone incorporated into each of the east and west wall faces. Both are burnt red.

The robbed out wall line in Room 24 running west apparently continuing under Room 21. The top of a large pink red stone is just visible at this stage within the wall above the level surface of mortar.

The robbed out wall line in Room 24 running west apparently continuing under Room 21. The top of a large pink red stone is just visible at this stage within the wall above the level surface of mortar.

The east stone forms the end of the stoke-hole revetment wall interpreted by Richmond. The west stone was revealed at the end of a ‘robber trench’… that is a trench dug to salvage the foundation stones of a disused wall. This demolition happened before Room 24 was built over it and before the 2nd century stoke-hole was built against the east stone.

The sequence of events surrounding the west stone show how much has happened since its foundation trench was dug and it was placed in its original wall line fixed with its distinctive pink mortar against its now lost neighbours. The Roman walls abutting it on either side are later as is the modern wall reconstruction above it. The cut and filling of the trench dug to rob out the wall our stone was once a part of has preserved the alignment of this earliest wall within Room 24.

The large red stone in the west wall of 24 after the mortar and rubble infilling of the 'robber trench' had been removed

The large red stone in the west wall of 24 after the mortar and rubble infilling of the ‘robber trench’ had been removed

This stone itself looks reused from somewhere else. Look at the shape of it and its regular wavy profile seen on the right hand side. With the light shining on it from a rare break in the cloud there appear to be figures on the upper face of it but these faint features are too worn to be certain.

The large stone surviving in Room 24's west wall. Although the stone has a tooled dressed face which can be seen beneath my trowel, it appears reused. It has an undulating wavy edge seen in profile on the right and its curving upper surface may have worn figures carved onto it...a trick of the light perhaps?.

The large stone surviving in Room 24’s west wall. Although the stone has a tooled dressed face which can be seen beneath my trowel, it appears reused. It has an undulating wavy edge seen in profile on the right and its curving upper surface may have worn figures carved onto it…a trick of the light perhaps?