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He adopted the then revolutionary technique of open-area excavation – an excavation that opened up as large an area as possible rather than digging in small box-trenches as Webster continued to do.

This new technique rapidly demonstrated that there was important but ephemeral evidence of a phase of timber buildings that had been erected after the basilica had been demolished.

From 1955 to 1985, Graham Webster of the University of Birmingham ran a major training excavation based on the baths, funded by the Ministry.

His principal discovery was the location of the fortress beneath Wroxeter that had long been suspected from military tombstones found in the 18th century. Here evidence of timber buildings was found lying over the site of the basilica and this led to an extensive and pioneering excavation directed by Philip Barker, also of the University of Birmingham.

Contemporary with these long-running excavations were a series of smaller excavations, often carried out by a local medical doctor, John Houghton, between the 1950s and mid 1970s.

Wright’s excavations continued intermittently on the baths and elsewhere until 1867, including an investigation of the Roman cemetery alongside Watling Street where it enters the town at the north-east corner, and the defences which were examined in a number of places.

Minor excavations were conducted on the baths in the 1890s by George Fox and by Kathleen Kenyon in 1936–7 to answer specific research questions about the buildings.

These located many peripheral sites of great interest including a tile works located on the flood plain, a pottery kiln at the confluence of the River Tern and River Severn just upstream of Wroxeter, a glass-working site located opposite the church in the village, the town’s major cistern into which the aqueduct flowed, some isolated graves in the north-east cemetery, work on the river to locate the crossing point or bridge and a number of investigations on the town’s defences.

The defences were also examined by Stephen Johnson, who re-opened one of Kathleen Kenyon’s trenches and also Houghton’s water cistern nearby, and Simon Esmonde Cleary, of the University of Birmingham, who re-examined the northern defences sectioned by Atkinson in the 1920s.

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