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Sources of Roman Stone Evening Lecture

Construction of the Roman city of Bath, Aquae Sulis, began 60-70 AD, with its famous thermal baths probably built some decades later. The majority of the city was constructed of Middle Jurassic limestone (informally referred to as Bath stone and Great Oolite) but the exact source(s) of the stone and stratigraphic horizon(s) have not been addressed before. In a project with the Roman Baths and archaeologists from the University of Bournemouth, outcrops of stone around Bath have been studied for their sedimentological features and geochemical signatures using pXRF, and comparisons made with the stone within the Roman baths complex. In some old quarries, Lewis bolt holes have been found cut in the stone, which are identical to those on Roman blocks within the baths complex, as well as circular holes 44 mm in diameter considered to be typical of Roman chisels. The quantity of stone required for Aquae Sulis would have been enormous, so that it is very likely many quarries provided the stone. This talk will discuss the likely sources and supply routes of stone to the Roman city.  

Maurice Tucker is a Professor based at the School of Earth Sciences at Bristol University. His interests are ‘in rocks that fizz: limestones and dolomites.’ He is part of the Carbonates Research Group in Bristol, headed by Fiona Whitaker.

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Construction of the Roman city of Bath, Aquae Sulis, began 60-70 AD, with its famous thermal baths probably built some decades later. The majority of the city was constructed of Middle Jurassic limestone (informally referred to as Bath stone and Great Oolite) but the exact source(s) of the stone and stratigraphic horizon(s) have not been addressed before. In a project with the Roman Baths and archaeologists from the University of Bournemouth, outcrops of stone around Bath have been studied for their sedimentological features and geochemical signatures using pXRF, and comparisons made with the stone within the Roman baths complex. In some old quarries, Lewis bolt holes have been found cut in the stone, which are identical to those on Roman blocks within the baths complex, as well as circular holes 44 mm in diameter considered to be typical of Roman chisels. The quantity of stone required for Aquae Sulis would have been enormous, so that it is very likely many quarries provided the stone. This talk will discuss the likely sources and supply routes of stone to the Roman city.  

Maurice Tucker is a Professor based at the School of Earth Sciences at Bristol University. His interests are ‘in rocks that fizz: limestones and dolomites.’ He is part of the Carbonates Research Group in Bristol, headed by Fiona Whitaker.

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