Nature 144, 473-473 (09 September 1939) | doi:10.1038/144473b0

Roman Temple at Albury, Surrey

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ROMANO-BRITISH studies are greatly indebted to the Surrey Archæological Society for the work of excavation and conservation which has been carried out on the site of the Roman temple on Farley Heath, Albury, Surrey, by A. W. G. Lowther and R. G. Goodchild on behalf of the Society. The complete plan of the building has now been traced, and marked out by stones from the original structure, bedded in concrete. The site has been known for a long time. It attracted the attention of Elias Ashmole; and in 1670 and 1847 it was despoiled of much of its stone. Little, however, was known of its structure or its relation to surrounding buildings, if any. Recent excavation has shown, it is reported in The Times of August 18, that the temple consisted of a simple cella, or shrine, measuring 18 ft. internally, and surrounded by a corridor, or veranda, 8 ft. wide. It has been too much damaged for any details of the architecture to be known, but red tesserae and red wall plaster hint at the character of the internal decoration. It stood within a polygonal Avail, approximately 240 ft. in diameter, which probably was intended to demarcate the sacred enclosure. An inner enclosing wall has been found on the north side. Few smaller antiquities have been found in the recent excavations, the most important being a fragment of a terra-cotta “votive lantern”, similar to those found at Ashstead, Surrey, and Verulamium. The ground had been too thoroughly turned over by previous diggers to make it probable that many of the smaller class of objects would be found. Further, the excavations of 1848 had provided a rich spoil—more than 1,000 coins, mostly Roman, but including some rare British in gold and silver, and numerous enamelled brooches, while a thin strip of bronze, crudely embossed with human and animal figures, has since been identified as a pagan priest’s ritual sceptre. The foundations of the temple were of local ironstone and chalk from the North Downs, but the superstructure was of Bargate sandstone. Wealden clay had been used for the tiles, baked, in all probability, in the tile-kiln discovered in 1936 in Wykehurst Farm, Cranleigh, four miles away.