More tales from the river bank.

A packed public meeting at the BRSLI in Queen Square this week to hear Cai Mason of Wessex Archaeology talk about discoveries made during rescue work along the north bank of the River Avon near Churchill Bridge.

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More than 130 people turned up for the lecture at the BRSLI in Queen Square. One of the biggest gatherings recorded.

It’s where contractors will be doing some re-shaping at the river edge as part of a flood alleviation scheme in this quarter of the city – earmarked for business and residential redevelopment.

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The re-shaped bank will be set out as a park area but, in recent months, archaeologists have been uncovering the evidence of those who worked and lived by the river.

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Cai Mason who led the dig.

Archaeologists uncovered and recorded the remains of  a parchment-making factory, foundry, public baths and laundry, tenement houses,  a pub and a cobbled slipway to the river.

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How the river bank will look.

A careful study of maps – ancient and modern – helped them to know what to expect as the earth was removed.

This was an area – prone to flooding – which developed a bad reputation for slum dwellings and prostitution.

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Cai Stands in the Bath House. This would have been a section of screened cubicles where people did their laundry and would have paid for hot river water by the bucketful.

But it was an area in which the ordinary people of Bath struggled to making a living and bring up families.

Bath Newseum was given access to the dig as it progressed. In fact, our first interview with Cai attracted five thousand hits in one day.

Though all has been recorded the remains have had to make way for the re-shaping of the bank.

All that is bar one special little piece of the past. A small stone bridge built to cross a ditch as part of improvements to an old riverside path.

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The little 18th century stone bridge as excavated.

It’s hoped that it can be incorporated into the re-defined layout as a memorial to this previously unrecorded piece of Bath’s history.

Various artefacts – found during the archaeological work – are currently on display at the BRSLI in Queen Square and it’s free to go in and have a look.

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They should be there for at least another week before Wessex Archaeology decide what to do with them.

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Here’s a selection:

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