Life, Death, and Rubbish Disposal in Roman Norton, North Yorkshire

This report describes the results of excavations conducted in 2015-2016 on the Brooklyn Hall site, south of the River Derwent, opposite the fort at Malton, and immediately west of the main road from York. All those involved are to be commended for ensuring the results and analysis have been published so soon following the conclusion of the site investigations.

A primary phase of agricultural activity represented by the remains of a field system was found to have been succeeded in the mid-3rd century by the gradual spread of burials. These included both inhumations and cremations, while the latter included an example of the bustum-type variety in which the funeral pyre was constructed over a pre-prepared pit into which the resultant material was deposited. In this case, a concentration of human bone was placed in a large calcite-gritted pit. Analysis of the associated finds – by Hilary Cool and Stephen Greep – indicates that the individual was a soldier. Traces of a possible mausoleum were also encountered.

By the end of the 3rd century, the neighbouring settlement had begun to expand across this area and the cemetery passed out of use. Elements of a group of stone buildings and structures were investigated, some of several phases, and the majority appear to belong to the ‘strip-house’ type ubiquitous in the commercial sectors of many Roman settlements, including military vici. Interestingly, occupation of these buildings continued down to the end of the 4th century, at which point they were abandoned and either demolished or left to decay.

The assemblage of materials recovered was notable for the large quantity of pottery sherds: more than 21,000. Pleasingly, the pottery report includes colour photographs in addition to the usual drawings.

Although the discoveries were perhaps not the most visually impressive, this excavation has added greatly to our knowledge of the small town of Delgovicia. The concluding ‘Discussion’ by Pete Wilson usefully contextualises the finds with regard to what we know of Norton as a whole.

This report conforms to the usual high standards of production demonstrated by the Archaeopress imprint. It affords an important insight into the character of one of the small towns of Roman Britain.

Review by David Mason

Life, Death, and Rubbish Disposal in Roman Norton, North Yorkshire, Janet Phillips and Pete Wilson, Archaeopress, £48, ISBN 978-1789698381