My time on the A1



Team Insights


Cath Ross

I feel very privileged to have worked on the A1 scheme over the past eight years. The opportunity to direct sites within the heart of a Roman town felt like a dream job to me and it was great to be able to see the sites right through from fieldwork to post-excavation to publication. I particularly enjoyed the excavations at Agricola Bridge which involved investigation of the point at which Dere Street passed through the town wall via a gatehouse. This site also produced what was for me, and many others, the most memorable find from Cataractonium – a beautifully carved phallus on the side of a re-used bridge stone, affectionately known as the ‘Catterick cock’!

During the post-excavation phase, it was very satisfying to be able to draw together the stratigraphic evidence collected on site and combine it with specialist information to create a sound chronological framework for the development of Cataractonium. Following some hours poring over a matrix, a notable eureka moment for me was the realisation that we could date the town wall to the Severan period which sat very well with the historical context.

The publication phase was also memorable – although maybe not for the right reasons! Most of the text for the monograph was written during 2020 in lockdown conditions, which made already tight deadlines even more challenging. For those that aren’t aware, myself and my husband were the principal authors of the third monograph and we alternated hiding in the utility room to write sections with home-schooling our two young children – not the most conducive environment for writing!

As the project comes to a close, what stands out for me is the hard work of the staff involved in all elements of the venture and the camaraderie between colleagues. I feel very honoured to have worked with such a professional team who came together to deliver a successful project. I have compiled a collection of photos of people who worked on the scheme – apologies if you don’t find yourself there but I hope they will jog some fond memories of time spent working on the A1.

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