Uncovering the Conduit House.

It seems that out in the Parkland at Croft, almost every time some one sticks a spade in the ground something unusual is unearthed. On this occasion it was a case of curiosity; what was meant on an 18th century maps of the Fishpool Valley, where it stated the existence of a ‘Conduit’? A cursory search identified some old red tiles on the surface and Stephen Wass (Archaeologist) asked us to do a little clearing of all the brush and fallen branches that had dropped into a gully where all these tile seemed to have collected.

A little further up the gully Julie came across what she described as a pile of bricks and stone. We scrambled up and pulling back a large hand full of moss, uncovered what appeared to be a well built stone wall.

All that happened back in May (2019) and it wasn’t until July (2019) that we had another opportunity to set to work once more. We had two weeks to see if we could identify what it was that we had found.

After three days of digging and clearing way the stone and brick we were all trying to guess what it was that we had uncovered. Initially there was speculation that it might have been a cold Bath or Plunge Pool

We pulled out old Stone roof tiles, Slate Tiles and even Ceramic tiles but there was no sign of the remains of any roof structure. Week two and we were still going down as well as looking to the surrounding area; what ever it was there must be some access route to it, but that wasn’t too obvious either.

Inside the walled structure was a surrounding platform that looked as if it might be the entry to central square that might have contained water. more and more stones, bricks and slates came up and the centre got deeper and deeper.

The idea that it would have contained water came about when we uncovered what seemed to be an outlet channel; as we went further down a lead inlet pipe was uncovered, once unblocked the stone tank began to fill with spring water.

Mal began to prod around on the lower wall and suddenly the level of the water in the tank began to reduce and gushed out of the lower wall and into the stream below. We now had water coming in and going out of the Tank and the following morning having done a little more excavation the previous day, the water in the water tank was now crystal clear and flowing nicely.

Throughout the excavation Stephen along with his assistant Sarah measured, recorded and labelled points of interest and items we found amongst the rubble.

The sessions of excavation have now ended, we think for this year at least, what happens next is, I guess, dependant upon what decision is taken regarding the future of this curiosity. It seems as though it is a Conduit and not a Cold Bath or Plunge Pool; a source of fresh water held in a well constructed stone tank, but for who? How was it accessed and what did it look like? More questions that might be answered with more excavation.

For now the site has been left open and fenced off. I think there is still a lot more we can uncover; so watch this blog page to see what happens next.

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John Parsons