Piercebridge: Time Team investigates

Several people have been in touch to say that Channel 4's Time Team are again in the area. It is probably fair and safe to report this now as it would appear that filming has just this evening finished.

Previous shows have looked at Ulnaby near Walworth, Hardwick Hall at Sedgefield, Binchester and Hamsterley, and this time they are investigating the Roman remains at Piercebridge.

Over now to Dave Middlemas of Merrybent for a live update: "They are apparently diving in the River Tees a couple of hundred metres up from the site of the old mill at High Coniscliffe (where the footpath leads down from the A67). I know that a couple of years ago two local archaeologists came across some regular shaped holes cut in the river bed here.

The speculation was that they were Roman in origin and may even have been the foundation holes of a structure possibly even a bridge.

There has always been some argument as to the exact whereabouts of the various bridge structures over the river on Dere Street. Some have suggested that the commonly accepted foundations which are now on display on the south side of the river are not a bridge at all and are in fact the footings of an elaborate jetty. Of course any current excavations on the south side of the river will be hampered by the fact that the entire surface was skimmed away by gravel extraction in the 1940s and later artificially landfilled and landscaped.

The down side of all this is the disgraceful way in which the excavated fort at Piercebridge seems to have been neglected this year. It is almost sure to feature in the programme and I don’t think the grass has been cut once this year. It was previously kept in good order but it now resembles heaps of rubble just sticking out of rough pasture or meadow grass. Another few months like this and we’ll need another team of archaeologists to uncover it again. I don’t know who is responsible for the upkeep (if in fact anyone is) but a little publicity to highlight its condition would help."

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