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Hypocaust box flue tile from Tripontium

Roman clay tile found near Rugby

Many thousands of fired clay tiles were used in buildings in the Roman settlement of Tripontium. Vast numbers of tile fragments and some complete examples were recovered during the excavations of Tripontium that took place between 1961 and 2004. Different types of tiles included tegulae (roof tiles), imbraces (long tapering tiles with semi-circular cross-section). There were also tubuli (box flue tiles), like the one here, that were built into the walls of heated rooms, particularly in the bathhouse, designed to inter-connect and channel the underfloor heated air up the walls. Smaller stacked square tiles were used in the hypocaust pilae – to suspend the floor of heated rooms, particularly in the tepidarium (warm room) and caldarium (hot room) of the bathhouse. In the construction of the bathhouse, tiled drainage channels had been constructed within the underfloor of these heated rooms, most likely to take the waste water from different rooms of the bathhouse into the main drain.

Although no Roman period tile kiln has been found so far in the area around Tripontium, given the vast number of tiles used and plentiful supply of suitable clay in the locality, it is likely that the tiles were made nearby.

Dr Irene Glendinning, Secretary Rugby Archaeological Society

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