Craig Ferguson goes behind the scenes at the Royal Scottish Museum to see the work of conservator Alex Quinn. He works piecing together ceramics – not too hard a task, he says, unless the material is very friable. He shows Ferguson a badly corroded Roman spear-head but says it is possible to stabilise it from further deterioration and even improve its appearance. Overall, he believes that preservation is a priority but ultimately the intention is to bring the object to display standard – irrespective of whether or not it will actually go on display.
Ferguson describes other Roman artefacts such as mile-stones, alter stones and commemorative plaques that reveal Roman writing. Then he suggests the silver finds from Roman times may be treasure trove used to buy the support of the natives.
He investigates a Roman bath house in the company of Dr David Breeze, Chief Inspector of Ancient Monuments who walks him round the site at Bearsden. He explains that from the wattle-and-daub panelled changing room the Roman soldier would take his clothes off, keep his sandals on and enter the bath area with its underfloor heating system. Furnaces circulated the warm air.
The baths were part of a health and hygiene routine that meant in Roman times, life expectancy was actually better for a soldier than a civilian. Dr Breeze explained that The Romans invested in their highly trained soldiers and therefore looked after them.
He explains the latrine arrangement, a flushing system using wastewater from the baths. After the Romans left there was a gap of 1700 years in Britain before flushing systems were used again.
Ferguson returns to Inveresk where the dig is concluding. It is explained to him how the site is likely to have serviced the Antonine Wall from a harbour area as yet undiscovered.