Demolition work on Bath’s Saw Close building site is coming to an end with the actual start of constructing a casino, hotel and restaurants due to get underway at the end of April.
The Grade 2 listed and tower-topped entrance way into the old Palace Theatre – cum Regency Ballroom cum Gala Bingo Hall – will live on, as part of the new multi-million-pound scheme.
So a final visit for the Virtual Museum and a chance to see the latest finds being unearthed by Cotswold Archaeology who have kept a watch on the site throughout.
They have already unearthed and recorded a well-preserved clay pipe factory on the site and found and photographed Georgian cellars and even Roman mosaic floors and assorted tesserae – small cut blocks used to construct mosaic floors.
Elsewhere on the site granite stone setts – found under more modern tarmac – are being carefully removed and stored. They will be stored and used elsewhere by B&NES.
Recycling seems to be a growing modern habit as we try and slow down the rate at which we use up the Earth’s resources.
However – it seems- re-using materials is nothing new. During the four hundred years of the Roman occupation of Bath many buildings were built and then rebuilt – using original materials.
Alistair Barber – Senior Project Officer for Cotswold Archaeology – showed me where they’d found the floor of a Roman house made up of the crushed tiles from a former building’s roof.
There was also evidence of where – in Medieval times – trenches had been cut to rob Roman structures of stones that could be used again for building.
Elsewhere on the site and below what was the stage of the old music hall theatre workmen have cut into an old vaulted cellar which may have been constructed beneath the original Pavilion Music Hall which was built here in 1886.
Putting my head in – and with torch in hand – not much to see apart from piles of broken bottles.
All the archaeology on the site will be written up and published and my thanks to Cotswold Archaeology of Cirencester for letting the Virtual Museum and the people of B&NES share in their finds.
Also thanks to Sanctus Site Manager Jon Cossins Price and his demolition team for giving us access to what has been uncovered.