chapter  6
Pages 11

Our attention now turns to the more difficult question of what might have stood over the foundations and walls revealed in archaeological excavation. What did these Romano-British houses actually look like? The extent to which upper stories were found in Romano-British houses is hotly disputed (Neal 1982, J.T. Smith 1997: 10), and the first question that needs to be resolved here is whether or not the houses described here were generally built over one or more floors. There is no doubt that several Romano-British aisled buildings were tall enough to have accommodated an upper storey. A collapsed fourth-century gable wall found in excavations at Carsington in Derbyshire had stood 11.5 m high to the gable (Ling 1992). Similar evidence shows that the gable wall of an aisled building at Meonstoke in Hampshire had been some 10 m high (fig. 46). The Meonstoke wall, which is now on display in the British Museum, has provided a mass of new information about the appearance of such structures (King and Potter 1990). It was built as part of a fourth-century addition to the southeast facade of the building, and had been set over foundations 1 m thick and 2 m deep. The remains show that the aisled building was designed as a basilica with a tall nave lit by clerestory windows set above the line of the aisles, and not with a single roof span over both nave and aisles. The collapsed wall included a register of three clerestory windows separated by mortared columns, some 2.5 m above ground level. A projecting tile cornice, about 200 mm deep, protected these windows from the rain. Above this, in the gable of the building, there was a register of blind arcading with tile arches separated by pilasters with greenstone bases and capitals. Most of the architectural details were executed in red tile separated by thick bands of white mortar. This monumental building drew inspiration from the public basilica, and the use of rows of linked arches in Romanesque style witnessed considerable architectural sophistication.