September 2011

Results of the Geophysical Prospection at Annegray (Courtesy of R. Schott and G. Dowling)

Following on from the successful campaign of fieldwork in 2010, and once again in collaboration with our French colleagues, we returned once again to Annegray in the autumn of 2011. Our main objective during the second phase of research on the site was to increase our knowledge of the rectilinear feature revealed the previous year. Consequently further geophysical prospection was carried out on the feature, this time using Electrical Resistance, which it was hoped would pick up different aspects of the site, thus filling out the picture obtained from the magnetometry. Indeed, the resulting data offered a clearer image of the site and suggested that what we were in fact dealing with was more than likely a bank or wall enclosure with an outer ditch. Having garnered as much information as possible from the geophysics, it was decided to open a test trench with the primary objective of both testing our hypothesis and of obtaining dating material for a feature that, based solely on morphological interpretation , could be placed at any date between the Bronze Age and the Later Medieval period. A test trench measuring 3m X 7m was extended over one side fo the enclosure, revealing that the earliest phase of the structure consisted of a substantial ditch enclosing an internal bank/raised platform which produced construction material dating it to the Roman period (terra cotta, teulae). Given the preliminary results of the prospection and excavation the assertion of Jonas of Susa that Columbanus founded his original monastery in the ruins of a deserted Roman fort make this feature a tantalizing target for further research into early Columbanian sites.

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