Ross-on-Wye



Ross-on-Wye

Excavations in the Prospect

Introduction

After the boundary wall between the Prospect garden and the churchyard collapsed, Border Archaeology were employed by Herefordshire County Council to oversee the excavations required to repair the south-west wall which was a result of the poor drainage through the wall. This was supposed to last around four weeks under a Watching Brief.

A Watching Brief is used by a developer to record and preserve archaeological remains when there is a threat from development of an area. An archaeologist is employed by the site’s developer to monitor excavations, landscaping and any other intrusive work and the archaeologist is given sufficient time to identify and record any archaeological finds and features.

During the works there was an expectation that human remains would be found due to the proximity to the church yard but, although animal skeletons were found, no human remains were actually discovered. The excavations did reveal that cartloads of soil had been used to build up the level of the Prospect on top of the bedrock and the features that existed there.

The West Wall

The first phase of the excavation involved much more digging than was originally envisaged as an area approximately 20m long x 4m wide x 2m deep was hand excavated. These works revealed two ditches running approximately north-west to south-east, parallel to the boundary wall, with other features clearly running out under the churchyard and extending further back under the Prospect. There were also several post holes and signs of burning that were believed to be due to some form of fire hearth.

Items found during the works included Samian ware, a kind of bright glossy red Ancient Roman pottery [1 AD onwards] 7, a Roman coin from the reign of Claudius [Emperor from 41 AD to 54 AD] 8 and Bronze Age [circa 3300 BC] prehistoric worked flints and these indicated that there had been several periods of occupation on the site.

Another feature identified was a flat bottom pit but there were no indications of its intended use; samples were taken to allow analysis and the date to be determined which are currently awaiting analysis.

Two distinct timber structures were identified that were enclosed by a boundary ditch and appeared provisionally to be of early Roman date (1st-2nd century AD). The second one had replaced the first probably after it had fallen into disuse. Significant evidence of burning activity associated with these buildings was identified, in the form of charred timber slats and fired soil surfaces, which may have been associated with an accidental fire or deliberate clearance of the site. An alternative explanation is that the buildings may have been used for industrial purposes, possibly for the manufacture of pottery or iron-working, however the quantity of pottery and iron slag found appeared to be suggestive of low-level domestic production rather than large-scale industrial activity.

The North West Corner

In the North West corner further excavations were carried out. In this area a 20m x 10m area was excavated to uncover what was below.

As a result a circular base of a structure was uncovered with a post hole in the centre with the base being in the shape of a bowl but the side of the feature was cut through by the original boundary wall. This base was surrounded by 1m thick square walls; these were believed to be Roman. There were signs of collapsed stonework which indicated that the structure had collapsed after it had been abandoned.

There were a number of robber trenches present that had been used to remove stone from the walls, possibly for the construction of the adjacent parish church or the Bishop’s Palace. It was also noted that the churchyard walls contained Roman masonry which may have been robbed from this site. The robber trenches were presumed to have been sunk at some unspecified point during the medieval period. Although Roman pottery was found around the circular base it was not clear if this had got there when the structure was in use, due to material collapsing into the robber trenches or if it came from the material used to level the site to form the Prospect garden.

The masonry structure was dug into a sandy soil, which appears to have been used as a landscaping or levelling deposit for the building to sit upon. Within this soil was a Roman coin identified as dating from the reign of the rebel Emperor Carausius (287-293 AD). The structure appears to have been built shortly after the deposition of this levelling layer, which might suggest a late Roman date for its construction. However, material suitable for dating was elusive and only one pottery shard was found under any intact deposits hence the date of the structure was not confirmed.

Significantly, another rubble filled foundation trench was located to the SE of the circular structure, indicating that it may well have formed part of a larger complex of masonry buildings located beneath the Prospect.

Further excavations around the perimeter of the circular structure also unearthed a small horse skeleton that was partially buried by the structure and only its legs were revealed. This was half a meter below the surface and indications are that this burial was not a coincidence. Elsewhere other horse skeletons and copper-alloy items related to horses, such as harnesses, were found. This might indicate that the site had a special significance, possibly a shrine to Epona.

Epona, meaning 'Great Mare', was a Celtic goddess who was, unusually, also recognised and worshipped in Rome itself between the first and third centuries AD. Epona was a protector of horses, donkeys, and mules and was particularly known as a goddess of fertility which is indicated by her depictions with a patera (a broad, shallow dish used for drinking, primarily in a ritual context such as a libation, which is a ritual pouring of a drink as an offering to a god), a cornucopia, ears of grain and the presence of foals in some sculptures 9. Maybe the circular bowl shaped structure is symbolic of a patera.

No similar structures have been previously identified and it has been postulated that this could also have been:

  • A defensive tower or signal tower due to its strategic vantage point overlooking the Wye, although the excavations revealed no clear evidence for Roman military occupation on the site.
  • A Windmill or Mill but this seems to be unlikely due to the external square walls which would make positioning the sails difficult.
  • A dovecote but there were no bones or faeces found. No other examples of Roman dovecotes have been found which seems to rule this out.
  • Another possibility, based on the size and plan of the structure, is that it could have represented a bath-house, forming part of a larger group of buildings that once occupied The Prospect, possibly a late Roman villa complex.

A coin minted in Leon, France, during the reign of Emperor Vespasian [72-73 AD] was also found during the works. This indicated that travel over great distances had occurred for such a coin to turn up in Ross.

The Bishops Palace

During the excavations Dr Keith Ray, County Archaeologist Herefordshire Council, requested a trench to be opened further into the Prospect to look at the extent of the Roman workings on the site.

Although it is known that John Kyrle had a fountain built in the Prospect, it was not known what else was located there. During this excavation a well built but partially robbed out wall 1 metre thick was uncovered. At its base the foundations were 1.2 metres thick.

This was identified as being the remains of the Bishops Palace. This was surprising as this was believed to have been under the Royal Hotel because in 1837, when the Royal was built, a vaulted holding cell was found. As a result of this find the location and the extent of the palace was put in question.

The walls cut through the Roman layers but there was no floor surface found during the excavation and no evidence of slots in the wall to support a timber floor. Medieval floor tile fragments were found but it was not clear if these were related to the building or as a result of the importing of soil to build up the level of the Prospect.

There was no reference to the Palace in the Domesday Book [1086 AD] in which such an important building would be recorded. In 1166-1167 a fortified house is recorded as being on the site which was the Palace. It is therefore thought to have been built around the start of the 12th century and was abandoned in the 14th century.

Conclusion

It has been concluded that this has opened a new window on the occupation of Ross.

There is evidence, in the form of pits and worked flints, of prehistoric occupation of the site from the Bronze Age or possibly earlier. The second phase of occupation came in the form of timber structures associated with pottery and iron slag,which appeared provisionally to be of early Roman date. This period of occupation continued until the latter part of the third century AD when the site was abandoned. Following this abandonment, there appears to have been a phase of landscaping activity which was dated to around the late third century, due to the coin from the reign of Emperor Carausius being found within the landscaping deposit. The circular masonry structure appears to have immediately post-dated this phase of landscaping activity, which provisionally suggests a late Roman date for its construction, although further work is needed to establish its precise date and function.

The Roman occupation was not unexpected as other sites of Roman occupation have been found in the area at Weston-under-Penyard (i.e. Ariconium) and Coughton.

In addition to the Mesolithic flint tools found on Chase Hill, which became an important Iron Age hill fort, this has proved to be a useful insight into the history of Ross and has proved that there was pre-Roman activity and Roman occupation specifically in the Ross area.

This is based on a talk given to the Ross & District Civic Society by Border Archaeology.

Rebuilding

12th December 2009

On Friday 20th November 2009 the new wall was officially handed over to Herefordshire Council thus indicating that the works are now complete.

The restored Prospect viewing point (12-12-09)
[i]The restored Prospect viewing point (Click for a larger image)

Present at the handover were Mr. Lee Dawson, Mr. Bob Stevens (both from JJ Preece and Sons), Ross Councillor Gordon Lucas (who has followed the works from the start) and Councillor John Stone (chairman of Herefordshire Council)6.

Mr. Lee Dawson has been the site manager since the works started and was relieved to see the works complete especially considering the various complexities and associated delays that have occurred during the project.

The restored view point (12-12-09)
The restored view point (Click for a larger image)

21st November 2009

The fencing surrounding the upper part of the works has also now been removed. Unfortunately it was raining so heavily and got dark so early that I did not get the opportunity to take a worthwhile photo.


7th November 2009

The Boundary Wall

The stone facing on the retaining wall has now been completed.

The completion of the retaining wall (07-11-09)
The completion of the retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)

18th October 2009

The Boundary Wall

The stone facing on the retaining wall has now nearly been completed.

The building of the retaining wall (18-10-09)
The building of the retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)

10th October 2009

The South and West Wall

The south retaining wall (10-10-09)
The south retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)

The stone facing on the south wall has been completed.


The west wall of the Propect boundary wall has been half completed.

The west retaining wall (10-10-09)
The west retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)

27th September 2009

The Retaining Wall

As can be seen here, the building of the facing on the wall has been further progressed in the last week.

The ongoing building of the boundary wall (27-9-09)
The ongoing building of the boundary wall
(Click for a larger image)

19th September 2009

The Facing for the Retaining Wall

As can be seen in this photo, the facing for the south-west corner and west wall are in the process of being built.

Facing for the boundary wall (19-9-09)
Facing for the boundary wall
(Click for a larger image)

12th September 2009

The Retaining Wall

The retaining wall for the south-west corner and west wall have been cast and the shuttering removed.

The boundary wall (12-9-09)
The boundary wall
(Click for a larger image)

22nd August 2009

The Shuttering for the Retaining Wall

The shuttering has been put in place to allow the concrete supporting wall to be cast around the steel reinforcing.

Shuttering for the boundary wall (22-8-09)
Shuttering for the boundary wall
(Click for a larger image)

The shuttering for the boundary wall (22-8-09)
The shuttering for the boundary wall
(Click for a larger image)

The corner of the shuttering (22-8-09)
The corner of the shuttering
(Click for a larger image)

Once the concrete wall has been cast, a stone facing wall will be built around the outside and the soil put back inside to protect the archaeology and to rebuild the Prospect viewing point.


4th July 2009

The Retaining wall

The footings for the boundary wall are now in place and a buttress to help support the west wall has been added in the form of the steel reinforcing as seen here.

The rebuilding of the boundary wall (4-7-09)
The rebuilding of the boundary wall
(Click for a larger image)

The rebuilding continues (4-7-09)
The rebuilding continues (Click for a larger image)

29th June 2009

The Excavation

The excavations have continued and the soiled piled on top of the archaeology ready for the boundary and retaining walls to be built.

The excavation site (29-6-09)
The excavation site (Click for a larger image)

26th June 2009

The Excavation

The excavation site (26-6-09)
The excavation site (Click for a larger image)

Hole in the bank (26-06-09)
Hole in the bank
(Click for a larger image)

The excavations have restarted and this strange hole full of stones have been unearthed.

Presumably this is the precursor to the retaining and boundary wall being rebuilt.


Another view of the excavation site (26-6-09)
Another view of the excavation site (Click for a larger image)

At the upper site there are several pieces of excavation equipment along with a mini digger at the lower site.

There are also a number of pieces of reinforcing steelwork laying around the site; presumably this will be used as part of the retaining wall. Additionally there are a number of bags of stone that will be used to face the boundary wall.

The diggers have returned (26-06-09)
The diggers have returned
(Click for a larger image)


The upper view of the excavation site (26-6-09)
The upper view of the excavation site (Click for a larger image)

16th June 2009

The Lower Excavation Area

There has been no work on the site for a number of weeks now, it has become overgrown and looks disheveled.

There is a notice on the boundary fence that states that the works have halted as the walls are redesigned to allow the site to be preserved.

The lower excavation site (16-6-09)
The lower excavation site (Click for a larger image)

4th April 2009

The Original Excavation

The excavation has now been covered with a layer of soil to protect it as preparations to build the supporting and boundary wall continue.

The original excavation site (4-4-09)
The excavation site (Click for a larger image)

2nd April 2009

The Original Excavation

The excavation has been covered with polythene or a similar protective layer. The elevators have been positioned to allow soil to be transported back down onto the site to allow the polythene to be held down in place.

The original excavation being covered (2-4-09)
The excavation site being covered (Click for a larger image)

28th February 2009

The Original Excavation

The roof and scaffold over the excavation site has been removed and a layer of polythene placed over the area to protect it. The trench that will form the lower part of the retaining wall has started to be excavated. Once the retaining wall is underway the boundary wall is also likely to be rebuilt.

The original excavation site (28-02-09)
The original excavation site
(Click for a larger image)

17th February 2009

The Original Excavation

The original excavation site (17-02-09)
The original excavation site
(Click for a larger image)

The excavations are continuing, as can be seen in the photo above, and are currently scheduled to be completed by the end of March.

At the end of March the proposal is to build a retaining wall around the back of the site to hold the Prospect bank back and stop the garden from collapsing into the excavated area. The stone wall will then be completed around the outside of the site to complete the boundary wall and separate the Prospect from the Church Yard again. The idea then seems to be to put a temporary cover over the site until it can be decided how (or if) the site can be put on display.

In the middle of the photo are the Archaeologists continuing the excavations and the person who will be in charge of building the walls needed to retain the banks and create the boundary wall. To the far right can be seen two representatives from AMEY, who are the primary contractors, who are surveying the site in preparation for the continuation of the boundary and retaining walls.

Border Archaeologists (17-02-09)
The Archaeologists at the site
(Click for a larger image)

This shot shows the ongoing excavation work in more detail. The three people in the lower half of the shot to the left are from Border Archaeology, who are carrying out the archaeological excavation and the gentlemen in the upper part of the shot, in the fluorescent jacket, is from I. J. Preece & Son Ltd (IJP) who are in charge of carrying out the construction of the retaining and replacement boundary walls.


1st February 2009

The New Excavation

The roof over the new excavation site has been removed and the walls of the Bishops Palace are soon to be covered back over.

The new excavation site (01-02-09)
The new excavation site
(Click for a larger image)

23rd January 2009

The Original Excavation

The original dig has been further extended and excavations have been continuing both out and down.

The extended original excavation (23-01-09)
The extended original excavation
(Click for a larger image)

The War Memorial

It has been announced that since the move of the War Memorial it has been decided to give it a clean and update it to include some of the names linked to recent conflicts.

The War Memorial (11-01-09)
The War Memorial
(Click for a larger image)

The New Excavation

The new dig area is unchanged.

Excavations Continue

6th December 2008

The Original Excavation

The original excavation (06-12-08)
The original excavation
(Click for a larger image)

Work on the original excavation site is continuing and being further enlarged out under the area that the cover was extended out over.


The Prospect

This shot shows the top of the Prospect where the excavations are continuing and the spoil heaps from the digs are being created.

The Prospect (06-12-08)
The Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

The New Excavation

As reported in The Journal (3/12/08) the new excavation is believed to be of a 800 year old wall belonging to the Bishops Palace that sat somewhere in this area prior to the building of the Royal Hotel and Prospect Garden. Herefordshire Council has put in a bid for Heritage Lottery funding as it is thought that this new find combined with the 1900 year old Roman remains could be a great tourist attraction for the area and needs to be preserved and suitably displayed.

30th November 2008

The New and Old Wall

If the new and old walls are compared then it is interesting to note that the new wall is weathering quickly so that it is already beginning to match and blend in with the original wall.

The new Prospect Wall (30-11-08)
The new Prospect Wall
(Click for a larger image)
The old Prospect Wall (30-11-08)
The old Prospect Wall
(Click for a larger image)

The New Excavation Cover - completed

The cover and viewing platform have now been completed and further excavations are being carried out.

The completed new dig cover (30-11-08)
The completed new dig cover
(Click for a larger image)

The new excavations continue (Click for larger images)

23th November 2008

The New Excavation Cover

The new dig cover (23-11-08)
The new dig cover
(Click for a larger image)

A new cover and viewing platform is being constructed over the new excavation area in the centre of the Prospect.


The view of the new excavation (Click for larger images)

15th November 2008

The Dig Cover

The extended dig cover (15-11-08)
The extended dig cover
(Click for a larger image)

The extension to the cover over the site has now been completed.

The extended cover (15-11-08)
The extended cover
(Click for a larger image)

The Dig

Further works at the dig have been carried out.

The extended dig (15-11-08)
The extended dig
(Click for a larger image)

8th November 2008

The Dig Cover

The cover over the dig site is being extended as the dig is being extended.

The cover over the dig (08-11-08)
The cover over the dig site
(Click for a larger image)

The extended cover over the dig (08-11-08)
The extended cover over the dig site
(Click for a larger image)

The New Fence

The new fence (08-11-08)
The new fence
(Click for a larger image)

This is the new fence as seen from above.


Kyrle's Gate

Kyles Gate (08-11-08)
Kyrles Gate
(Click for a larger image)

The gate has now been returned. Interestingly the gate itself has a special bottom hinge that means that if the gate is released it automatically closes itself using its own weight as part of the mechanism.

Kyles Gate hinge (08-11-08)
Kyrles Gate hinge
(Click for a larger image)

2nd November 2008

The Dig

The excavations are continuing in the area where the base of the tower was uncovered.

The dig (02-11-08)
The dig site
(Click for a larger image)

The Prospect

New excavations in the Prospect (02-11-08)
New excavations in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

The new pit (02-11-08)
The new pit
(Click for a larger image)

In the Prospect a new pit has been opened up.

The pit seems to contain part of a wall and some other interesting features. It has to be remembered that the Prospect used to contain a fountain that formed part of the Town's water supply. Quite where this was located is unclear so the wall could be related to this or some other structure that has been in the Prospect in the past.


Kyrle's Gate

John Kyle's Gate has been reopened. The Gate itself is missing but the gate arch is now usable.

John Kyrles Gate (02-11-08)
New excavations in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

25th October 2008

The South Wall

The railings have been refitted to the top of the wall as this part of the work nears completion.

The south wall (25-10-08)
The south wall
(Click for a larger image)

The Dig

Further work has been carried out at the dig site as the excavations have been extended.

The dig (25-10-08)
The dig site
(Click for a larger image)

The Prospect

The main turfed area of the Prospect has been re-seeded as the tidying up continues.

The Prospect (25-10-08)
The Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

17th October 2008

The Sequoia Tree

The Prospect (17-10-08)
The Prospect with the tree removed
(Click for a larger image)

In order to be able to further the works in the Prospect, the Sequoia Tree in the Prospect was cut down today.

This will allow the excavations to be extended under the area where the tree was located thus extending the works. If no further information can be gained from this extension then the buttress to retain the Prospect will be built in this area around the "Roman" remains that were found in the corner of the site. The aim is to preserve the remains so that they can be put on permanent display whilst restoring the wall and the viewing point out over the river.


The log being removed (17-10-08)
The log being removed
(Click for a larger image)

Acer Tree Services from nearby Hereford were employed to fell the tree and remove it from the site.

A log on the trailer (17-10-08)
A log on the trailer
(Click for a larger image)

The logs (17-10-08)
The logs
(Click for a larger image)

The tree rounds (17-10-08)
The tree rounds
(Click for a larger image)

The tree stump (17-10-08)
The tree stump
(Click for a larger image)

All that remains of the tree on the site are the stump and some sections of the tree (each about 1200mm or 4 ft in diameter).


The War Memorial

The area around the War Memorial has been tidied up and the final layer of tarmac surrounding it will be laid tomorrow in preparation for Remembrance Sunday in a few weeks time when it will be rededicated

The War Memorial (17-10-08)
The War Memorial
(Click for a larger image)

The Excavations

Some further excavations have been taking place and this will presumably soon be extended further back now that the tree has been removed.

The excavations in the south west corner (17-10-08)
The excavations in the south west corner
(Click for a larger image)
The excavations (17-10-08)
The excavations
(Click for a larger image)

10th October 2008

South Wall

The completed south wall (10-10-08)
The completed south wall
(Click for a larger image)

The south wall has now been completed and the capping stones have been fitted to protect the top of the wall. Presumably all that is required now is the fence to be replaced on the top.

John Kyle's Gate has been tied into the new wall and the steps up to it have been tidied up. The various fencing in the area has been removed which is a great improvement to the appearance of the area.


John Kyrles Gate (10-10-08)
John Kyrle's Gate
(Click for a larger image)
The steps to John Kyrles Gate (10-10-08)
The steps to John Kyrle's Gate
(Click for a larger image)

The Sequoia Tree

As has been reported in the local newspapers, the Ross Gazette and the Ross-on-Wye Journal, the Wellingtonia (or Sequoia) tree is to be removed so that the reinforcing needed to retain the wall can be built without destroying the archeological remains.

The Sequoia Tree in the Prospect (10-10-08)
The Sequoia Tree in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

The Tree or the Roman Remains

The latest article in the Ross-on-Wye Journal5 states:


Quoted from 'Ross-on-Wye Journal'
Tree will go at Prospect
THE TOWN council has reluctantly supported the controversial decision to fell a Wellingtonia tree at The Prospect in preference to destroying Roman remains found at the site. The remains were discovered during works to repair a listed wall. The tree is a casualty of rebuilding the wall but will be replaced. The wall must be rebuilt for the safety of park users and to prevent damage to adjacent property. Councillor John Jarvis, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for the environment and strategic housing, said: "The form and structure of The Prospect requires the collapsed retaining wall to be reinstated and this will either lead to the destruction of the archeological remains or the removal of the wellingtonia.
"While no-one likes to remove an established tree it can, unlike the archeological find, be replaced by another mature tree and the wellingtonia was not a part of the original park as laid out by John Kyrle, 'the father of Ross'."
Seven letters were received on the issue. Six express a preference for the tree to remain - three considered the tree of greater importance than the archeological remains. The other three suggest that the tree be kept but with the archeological remains left for investigation at a later date - but this could not be done without a retaining structure that would result in losing either the tree or the remains. The seventh letter said the display of the remains shouldcarefully reflect the historical design of The Prospect.
Denise Mason at Ross Town Council said: "Those letters must have gone direct to Hereford Council as we have only received one from the Civic Society."
The bidding for Heritage Lottery funding for a public display of the remains.

It seems, from the summary of the responses, that I may not have been the only person who was caught out by the original article in the Gazette.

Now that the fate of the tree is sealed, it has to be hoped that the display in the Prospect will be sympathetic to the area and that this will be an additional potential tourist attraction for the Ross area.

The Excavations

The Excavations (10-10-08)
The Excavations
(Click for a larger image)

As part of the ongoing works, the viewing ramp has been removed so that it is no longer possible to look down on the excavations.


The War Memorial

The War Memorial has now been completed at its new position in the centre of the Prospect and will be ready for Remembrance Sunday in November.

The War Memorial (10-10-08)
The War Memorial completed
(Click for a larger image)

4th October 2008

The Prospect

The Prospect is slowly being tidied up as various aspects of the works are completed.

The Prospect (4-10-08)
The Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

South Wall

The south wall (4-10-08)
The south wall
(Click for a larger image)
The new south wall (4-10-08)
The new south wall
(Click for a larger image)

The south wall has now been rebuilt as far as possible until a decision is made on the future of the archaeology that was found behind the west wall.

The complete wall (4-10-08)
The complete wall
(Click for a larger image)

The Tree or the Roman Remains

A recent article in the Ross Gazette3 (followed up the following week4) stated:


Quoted from 'Ross Gazette'
Roman remains or landmark tree?
ROMAN finds at the Prospect can be put on show but only at the expense of the beautiful Wellingtonia or Sequoia which dominates the Ross landscape. Town Councillors were told of this dilemma by Bill Bloxsome, Herefordshire Council's Conservation Manager, at Monday's meeting of Ross Town Council. He said that further excavations could be made and said that experts did not really know what the find was but they were more or less certain that it was Roman and that it was unique. The Wellingtonia was probably planted around 1850. Sequoias are popularly said to have 'an air of prehistoric mystique'.
The Mayor, Councillor John Davies asked if the people of Ross would have a chance to express their opinions and Mr Bloxsome said that people could write to him with their views but the decision needed to be made by the end of September.
Letters should be addressed to the Herefordshire Council Conservation Team, Plough Lane, PO Box 4, Hereford, HR4 OXH.


As a concerned local resident I wrote a letter regarding this stating that the works need to be completed so that the Prospect can be reinstated. I also questioned how additional investigations would assist in the understanding considering that the current archaeology was not conclusive. My suggestion was that the tree should not be cut down to extend the excavations as this would not be beneficial and the remains should be covered over to allow the works to be completed.

Due to some ambiguity in the article, which was highlighted in the reply received from Mr. Bloxsome, it was not clear that the issue was not displaying the remains and extending the site at the cost of the tree, as originally believed, but was in actual fact that it was either the tree or the destruction of the remains.

The issue is yet to be resolved.

War Memorial

The War Memorial (4-10-08)
The War Memorial
(Click for a larger image)

The War Memorial has been partially rebuilt in its new position in the centre of the Prospect.

The cross that forms the top is yet to be replaced.


The top of the War Memorial (4-10-08)
The top of the War Memorial
(Click for a larger image)

25th September 2008

War Memorial

The parts of the War Memorial have been moved close to its new position within the Prospect.

The base has started to be rebuilt and will soon be in place.

The War Memorial (25-9-08)
The War Memorial
(Click for a larger image)

The War Memorial top (25-9-08)
The War Memorial top
(Click for a larger image)
The War Memorial base (25-9-08)
The War Memorial base
(Click for a larger image)

13th September 2008

The building of the stone face of the wall is continuing.

The south wall (13-9-08)
The stone facing
(Click for a larger image)
The new south wall (13-9-08)
The south wall
(Click for a larger image)

The works on the dig site have been halted until the finds have been analysed to try to determine the date of the site, still thought to be Roman, and what other details can be ascertained.

As reported in the Ross Gazette3, further excavations can only be carried out if the Wellingtonia or Sequoia tree in the Prospect is cut down. The tree is thought to have been planted in around 1850 and the decision on further works has to be made by the end of September. Currently opinion is being sought from residents of the town.


The Sequoia tree (14-9-08)
The Sequoia tree
(Click for a larger image)
The Sequoia tree seen from Vaga Crescent (14-9-08)
The Sequoia tree seen from Vaga Crescent
(Click for a larger image)

The Sequoia tree can be seen from all over the surrounding area and the tree line of the view of Ross would be considerably changed by its removal.

As for the additional pit that has been dig in the Prospect, this has been expanded and what looks like a walkway is being built from it to one of the original paths through the Prospect.

The excavation in the Prospect (13-9-08)
The excavation in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

30th August 2008

The concrete wall (30-8-08)
The concrete wall has been completed
(Click for a larger image)

The new concrete retaining wall has been completed along this stretch and the soil has been back-filled in behind it as work starts to restore the Prospect to its former glory.

There are numerous drainage holes and what look like expansion gaps built into the wall which are likely to be there to prevent a repeat of the wall collapsing.


A 2nd sample section of the wall has been created in preparation for the main wall being rebuilt.

Maybe a different stone mason created this or maybe it was to test a different mix of mortar.

Another wall sample (30-8-08)
Another sample of the new wall has been created
(Click for a larger image)

There are various heaps of stone along the length of the concrete wall and the first stones that will form the new face of the wall have been laid. This seems to be another sample area that has been laid to check that the small samples can be translated into building the actual wall.

The new wall (30-8-08)
The new wall has been started
(Click for a larger image)
The new wall again (30-8-08)
The new wall again
(Click for a larger image)

Additionally a new pit has been opened up in the Prospect. Presumably this is related to the archeological works at the west side of the Prospect where the base of the structure was unearthed.

The excavation in the Prospect (30-8-08)
Excavation in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

Apparently at the dig site beside the structure base a horse skeleton has been unearthed but currently no other details have been released.

18th August 2008

The new wall sample (18-8-08)
A sample of the new wall
(Click for a larger image)

This sample of the face of the new wall has been created to demonstrate how the wall and mortar will look once the stone facing is put on the wall.


17th August 2008

Here we see the new concrete retaining wall for the south side of the Prospect. This will be faced with stone so that it is in keeping with the original wall.

The drainage pipe behind the wall has been put in place to help prevent a build up of water behind the wall which was partly why the collapse occurred.

The new retaining wall (17-8-08)
The new retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)

The front of the retaining wall (14-8-08)
The front of the retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)
The back of the retaining wall (14-8-08)
The back of the retaining wall
(Click for a larger image)

17th July 2008

The wall that was beside John Kyrle's Gate has been removed and the gate is now being supported by the framework that has been added around it.

The Prospect (17-7-08)
The Prospect wall works
(Click for a larger image)
The John Kyrle Gate (17-7-08)
The John Kyrle Gate
(Click for a larger image)

The lack of a doorway is seen as a sign that this may not have been a tower at all. It is possible that this is pre-Roman such as a Iron Age shrine. Another possibility is that it is post-Roman and a tower or structure related to the Bishops Palace.

The structure (17-7-08)
The Prospect structure
(Click for a larger image)
Stones at the works (17-7-08)
Stones
(Click for a larger image)

The foundations of the south wall have been laid down. The new wall will presumably be built up upon this and then faced with the stone from the original wall.

Stones at the works (17-7-08)
The wall foundations
(Click for a larger image)

8th July 2008

The tower (8-7-08)
The tower
(Click for a larger image)

The wall that crossed the tower base has been removed which has revealed another part of the base of the round structure.

The outside edges of the tower have been excavated to see what is below or the extent of them.


Recently Kyrle's Gateway has had a support structure built around it to prevent it from falling over due to it leaning out towards the church yard. This was presumably due to the pressure exerted by the built up area of the Prospect.

Kyrle Gateway (8-7-08)
Kyrle Gateway
(Click for a larger image)
Kyrles Gateway (8-7-08)
Kyrles Gateway
(Click for a larger image)

The work on the foundations of the new south wall are continuing as can be seen here.

The new wall foundations (8-7-08)
The new wall foundations
(Click for a larger image)

27th June 2008

Further work has been done with regard to adding a cover to the site. Now the sides have been added and the covers over the walls have been removed.

The covered area (27-6-08)
The covered area
(Click for a larger image)
The cover (27-6-08)
The cover
(Click for a larger image)

The site (27-6-08)
The site
(Click for a larger image)

The tower (27-6-08)
The tower
(Click for a larger image)

The site is now uncovered and the walls and round structure can be clearly seen. The walls bisect the round structure thus leading to the idea that the walls were a later addition.

The round structure seems to be a basin with a post hole in the centre. The post can be seen to the left.


The tower (27-6-08)
The tower
(Click for a larger image)
The tower and walls (27-6-08)
The tower and walls
(Click for a larger image)

13th June 2008

The roof has now been completed over the site.

Additionally at the south-western corner a ramp has been added and a viewing platform so that the progress on the dig can be seen by the public.

The Prospect roof (13-6-08)
The Prospect roof
(Click for a larger image)

The view from the platform (13-6-08)
The view from the platform
(Click for a larger image)
The platform ramp (13-6-08)
The platform ramp
(Click for a larger image)

The Prospect trench (13-6-08)
The Prospect trench
(Click for a larger image)

The trench where the south wall used to stand has now been completed and the base of the new wall has been started.


10th June 2008

Recently a scaffold has been erected beside the site and now a structure had been built over the top which looks like it maybe a roof.

The Prospect scaffold (10-6-08)
The Prospect scaffold
(Click for a larger image)

Prospect Roman Remains

4th June 2008

As reported in the Ross Gazette1, Archaeologists are very excited about finds unearthed at the Prospect.

Since the War Memorial was removed from the corner of the Prospect, to allow the bank to be dug away, and because planning regulations decree that every development has to have an archaeological dig, some very interesting finds have been discovered.

The Prospect site (5-6-08)
The Prospect site
(Click for a larger image)

Dr Keith Ray, the Herefordshire Archaeologist, told the Gazette:


"We are fairly sure that the find is Roman. The pottery appears to be Roman. Our main difference of opinion is as to what it is, perhaps a Pharos style tower or beacon, or a mausoleum ... If we walked over it we would destroy it. It is a baked earth circle with a posthole in the middle and it has square foundations at the corners more than one metre thick - quite large stones and that suggests that it was once quite a tall structure."

Dr. Ray stated that the dimensions were similar to that of the Gazebo Tower near the Royal Hotel in both diameter and height. Below are two artists impressions of what the tower might have looked like if it was still there today.

Prospect tower (5-6-08)
Artists impression of the Prospect Tower
(Click for a larger image)
The Prospect tower (5-6-08)
The Prospect Tower
(Click for a larger image)

He also stated:


"Nothing has been lifted out, there was a layer of medieval material over the top, and because of the Bishop's Palace you would expect to find medieval remains."

Neil Shurety, also an Archaeologist, explained that a number of ditches had been dug down through Victorian and Medieval layers right down to the Roman layer. They also found a horses head with a band on it which has been seen at other Roman sites but is not a common find. He explained that it was an active site and said:


"There seems to have been an amazing amount of activity in a relatively small area."

The Prospect work (5-6-08)
The Prospect dig site to the west
(Click for a larger image)
The Prospect work area (5-6-08)
The Prospect dig to the south
(Click for a larger image)

It was thought that the tower may have been built here due to the location overlooking the river. There was evidence of the base of the churchyard wall having been built out of Roman stone so this may have been some of the tower stone being reused.

Councilor John Jarvis explained that the site was very important to the local area and he said:


He said: "We all recognise that this could be a super site for Ross. We and the local members will have to step back and re-evaluate and all take a look at where we go from here. Clearly the investigation here is going to take time, however that creates a problem locally, the War Memorial was here and by November we will have to find a temporary site for it."

Dr. Ray stated that there should not be too much excitement about the site until the true date of the layer can be determined. But he did also hint that it could be one of the most important Roman sites found in Herefordshire.

The Hereford Times2 reported that this was confirmed as a Roman site and that this reinforces the long-held belief, in archaeological circles, that there are Roman remains somewhere underneath Ross.

A coin was found during the excavations which was minted in London between 286-290 AD. The Tower or building is of an unusual design so it maybe a Iron Age temple or shrine, that the Romans rebuilt in stone, that maybe linked to the view of the river as a shrine to water gods. A number of other Roman temple sites have been recorded in Wales and the Marches which are located on viewpoints overlooking water.

Herefordshire Council is looking at holding open days and maybe adding viewing platforms but the obvious priority is preservation.

Collapse Worsens and Work Starts

21st May 2008

The south west corner of the Prospect (21-5-08)
The south west corner of the Prospect (Click for a larger image)

These are the excavations as seen from the Prospect. The bank has been dug away next to where the south wall will be.

As can be seen in the photo above, extensive excavations have been carried out in the south west corner of the prospect in the area where the war memorials were situated.

The works from the Prospect (21-5-08)
The works from the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

The south wall trench (21-5-08)
The south wall trench
(Click for a larger image)

The trench that has been dug where the south wall used to be has been further extended and tidied up.


17th May 2008

In the photo below the spoil heaps from the excavations are clearly increasing in size.

The Prospect (17-5-08)
The Prospect spoil heaps (Click for a larger image)

The stone removed from the wall has been stored in bags ready to be used to recreate the wall once the reinforcing is done.

The stone from the wall of the Prospect (17-5-08)
The stone from the wall of the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

A trench has been started where the south wall used to be. At the south-west corner a number of trenches have been excavated.

The trench in place of the south wall (17-5-08)
The trench in place of the south wall
(Click for a larger image)
Excavation at the south west corner (17-5-08)
Excavation at the south west corner
(Click for a larger image)

9th May 2008

The south wall of the Prospect (9-5-08)
The south wall of the Prospect (Click for a larger image)

The work is now well under way. The whole length of the south and west walls have been either reduced in height or completely removed.

The wall of the Prospect (9-5-08)
The west wall of the Prospect (Click for a larger image)

The west wall of the Prospect (9-5-08)
The west wall of the Prospect (Click for a larger image)

3rd May 2008

The works seen from the churchyard (2-5-08)
The works seen from the churchyard
(Click for a larger image)

All the railings have now been removed and the war memorial has been moved away from the edge to allow the work to continue.


The Prospect (2-5-08)
The Prospect (Click for a larger image)

The war memorial has been moved so that the wall and bank can be removed where it stood to allow this area to be reinforced.

The war memorial (2-5-08)
The war memorial in its temporary position
(Click for a larger image)

The south west corner (2-5-08)
The south west corner (Click for a larger image)

The excavated area (2-5-08)
The excavated area
(Click for a larger image)

In the area where the original collapse happened, the area has been further excavated so that the reinforcing can be added before the wall is rebuilt.

All the railings around the top of the wall have been removed in preparation for the rest of the wall to be taken down.


The south wall (2-5-08)
The south wall (Click for a larger image)

26th April 2008

The works on the wall continue and the railings from the top of the south wall have now been removed. The area in the middle of the grass in the Prospect (mentioned below) has been enlarged.

The Prospect wall (26-4-08)
The Prospect wall (Click for a larger image)

24th April 2008

The Prospect gates (24-4-08)
The Prospect gates
(Click for a larger image)

The Prospect gate posts have had chip board fixed around them to protect them as machinery is moved in and out of the Prospect.

Various earth moving equipment has been moved into the Prospect and has been used to clear an area in the middle of the lawn area.


The diggers etc in the Prospect (24-4-08)
The diggers etc in the Prospect (Click for a larger image)

Where the wall initially collapsed, the bank has been dug back and shuttering has been setup to protect the graves below the area.

The wall by John Kyrle's Gate has been partially dismantled to allow work to continue (the capping for the wall can be seen on the pallet).

The collapsed area in the Prospect (24-4-08)
The collapsed wall in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

The collapsed Prospect wall (24-4-08)
The collapsed Prospect wall (Click for a larger image)

The collapsed area in the west wall (24-4-08)
The collapsed area in the west wall
(Click for a larger image)

The west wall has collapsed further, possibly due to the ivy being removed.

The collapsed west wall (24-4-08)
The collapsed west wall (Click for a larger image)

18th April 2008


Work has started clearing the ivy and vegetation off the walls of the Prospect. Presumably this means that work is soon to start on the walls.

The collapsed area (18-4-08)
The collapsed area
(Click for a larger image)

The collapsed area seen from the Prospect (18-4-08)
The collapsed area seen from the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)
The site of the viewing point (18-4-08)
The site of the viewing point
(Click for a larger image)

Some of the cleared vegetation (18-4-08)
Some of the cleared vegetation
(Click for a larger image)

Both the side, including its buttresses, and the end have been cleared.

The side the Prospect (18-4-08)
The side of the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

27th January 2008

Today I noticed the VE Day beacon in the Council yard down on the Ashburton Industrial Estate so it seemed prudent to see what was going on in the Prospect.


In the Prospect the VE Day Beacon has been literally pulled out. The viewing point appears to have been wrenched off its base. As can be seen in the right-hand photo below, the wall has collapsed behind where the viewing point was, the cause of this could have been the poor weather or possibly the effort needed to wrench the viewing point off its base.

The site of the VE Day beacon (27-1-08)
The site of the VE Day beacon
(Click for a larger image)
The site of the viewing point (27-1-08)
The site of the viewing point
(Click for a larger image)

Ross Town Council contracted Herefordshire County Council to look after the site. It has therefore fallen to Herefordshire County Council to carry out the repairs rather than the Church .

In order to fix the problem, the plan is to take down the existing wall and rebuild it using much more substantial foundations and then face it with the stone removed during the demolition of the outer wall. The unfortunately part is that the stone cleared from the graves when the side wall collapsed was left heaped in the Churchyard. This has slowly "disappeared" over the last year so not all of the original stonework can be replaced.

So far the small monuments in the Prospect have been removed but the War Memorial is yet to be moved away from the edge. This also leaves questions over what needs to be done to secure the John Kyrle Gate to prevent it from potentially toppling over.

The collapsed end wall (27-1-08)
The collapsed end wall
(Click for a larger image)
The collapsed end (27-1-08)
The collapsed end
(Click for a larger image)

There has been no change to the side wall other than grass has started to grow over the fallen debris.

The end wall (27-1-08)
The end wall
(Click for a larger image)
The collapsed side wall (27-1-08)
The collapsed side wall
(Click for a larger image)

This is the site as seen from further up the Churchyard looking down towards the side wall were the wall first collapsed. The War Memorial and John Kyrle's Gate stand out in the photo.

The collapsed area (27-1-08)
The collapsed side wall area
(Click for a larger image)

Prospect Collapse

22nd October 2007

Currently there has been very little change other than some tidying of the collapsed soil.


8th April '07

The collapsed wall from the church yard (Click for larger images)

The collapsed wall (8-4-07)
The collapsed area
(Click for a larger image)

Here we see that the wall has still not been replaced. One of the Redwood trees has been cut down presumably because its roots have not been helping the situation.


The collapsed wall from the Prospect (Click for larger images)

23rd January 2007

The clear up in the Prospect (23-1-07)
The clear up has started
(Click for a larger image)

The cleanup of the wall between the churchyard and the Prospect has started. The stone has been cleared from where it collapsed, presumably ready to be reused in the replacement wall.


The cleared wall (Click for a larger image)

Prospect Collapse

4th December 2006

Sometime in the last week, the south wall between the Prospect and the Churchyard has collapsed. The area has been fenced off from both the churchyard and Prospect side.

The Prospect collapse (4-12-06)
The fence in the churchyard
(Click for a larger image)
The collapse in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The fence in the Prospect
(Click for a larger image)

The wall in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The collapsed wall from as seen from the churchyard
(Click for a larger image)

This area of the wall has collapsed into the churchyard onto the graves below. This is presumably because of the rain that fell over the last week, has finally caused the bank and wall to collapse.


Here on the west wall of the Prospect, a large bulge and crack is apparent. The fence above is leaning which looks like the wall is collapsing here as well.

The collapse in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The west wall
(Click for a larger image)

The collapse in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The crack
(Click for a larger image)
The collapse in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The bulge in the west wall
(Click for a larger image)

The collapse in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The crack in the floor
(Click for a larger image)

A large crack can be seen in the path near the west wall in the Prospect, although I think that crack has been there for a long time as I remember seeing it last year.


Many of the retaining walls and buttresses holding up the Prospect, have trees and weeds growing out of them. As a result, many cracks have appeared in the stonework which are likely to weak points.

The collapse in the Prospect (4-12-06)
The cracked buttresses
(Click for a larger image)




1 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday June 4th 2008
2 The Hereford Times - Thursday June 5th 2008
3 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday September 10th 2008 - no. 6727 - article: Roman remains or landmark tree?
4 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday September 17th 2008 - no. 6728 - article: A new home for Ross War Memorial
5 Ross-on-Wye Journal - Wednesday October 6th 2008 - article: Tree will go at Prospect
6 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday November 25th 2009 - article: Prospect restored
7 http://en.wikipedia....ncient_Roman_pottery, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samian_ware
8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claudius
9 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epona


[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]






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