Archaeological investigations were carried out in 2007 and 2008 by Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service (WHEAS) in St Johns, Worcester prior to the construction of a new supermarket, sports centre, youth centre and road. Following extensive analysis and reporting by WHEAS, the archaeological finds have now been deposited with Worcester City Museums.
The site has yielded finds and features that span from an enclosure of the Iron age to the backplots of medieval St Johns and the tanning industry of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with particularly strong evidence from the Roman period.
An early Roman enclosure on this site can be dated by coins, pottery and brooches to the reigns of Claudius (AD41-54) and Nero (AD 54-68). It is thought to have had a specialist, perhaps trading function, rather than it being a settlement site. The brooches and coins have military associations and it is possible that this site sprang up as a native trading post to service the military as they advanced into the west in the conquest period. As the Roman site at Worcester became established across the river this enclosure at St Johns ceased to function.
The site was reused in the second century, most probably as a small farmstead. The enclosure was recut and smithing was carried out here. Later, from the mid third to the seventh centuries, the site was used again for the burial of the dead. Six graves were discovered in all which were thought to represent a number of phases of burial. Four of the graves contained surviving skeletal remains and the nature of the burials, which included occupants that were buried in hobnail boots, a skeleton buried in the prone position and another individual whose skull was decapitated prior to burial and placed between their feet, all suggest a Roman tradition of burial. The latest burials date to the post-Roman period and appear to represent a continuation of these traditions.
The archive is now in store under the care of Worcester City Museum Service. Thanks go to Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd who kindly gave their permission to deposit the archive with the museum for the benefit of our visitors and future researchers.
WHEAS’ full report entitled Archaeological Investigations in St Johns, Worcester by Jo Wainwright et al, Worcestershire County Council, 2010 is due to be published as an electronic report in the near future.
For more information and access to the St Johns archive please contact Deborah Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org