Archaeologists from TVAS have been excavating in advance of the construction of new teaching and hall blocks at The Ridgeway Primary School in southern Reading. Evaluation trenching and three open area excavations have revealed a significant number of archaeological features, primarily dating to the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods. The find that has caused the greatest amount of interest, however, is a Roman jar which contained upwards of 200 coins.
The features uncovered on the western side of the current school buildings consisted of ditches, gullies and post holes. Pottery found within some of them suggested that they dated to the Bronze Age, Iron Age and the Roman periods. The types of pottery, which mainly consisted of local wares, and features are representative of rural farming settlements with the ditches and gullies forming land and field boundaries while the post holes could indicate the presence of wooden structures. One of the earliest features recorded was the remains of a burnt mound. These are piles of burnt stone which, it is thought, were heated in a fire and then placed in a trough or container of water in order to raise its temperature. Once cool, the stones were then discarded, forming large mounds like the one discovered here.
Perhaps the most surprising find so far has been the Roman coin hoard that was discovered in the edge of the second excavation area. The greyware jar which held the coins was found in an almost upturned position within the subsoil, some 20cm beneath the ground surface. The coins and jar were excavated and brought back to the office for cleaning and analysis. TVAS' in-house numismatist and Roman specialist is currently working her way through the 200-plus coins that have been carefully removed from the vessel. Those that have been processed so far appear to date to the period of the Gallic Empire with coins depicting emperors from Gallienus to Claudius Gothicus representing a period of approximately 20 years, from c.AD 260-280.