The return tunnels North and South 120
The only way to leave the Sanctuary area is by the way we came in, at the entrance where we were confronted with the blocked archway with the frame of four tiles on edge. We are now at the junction of the Rise and South 120.
View of the back end of the tunnel system
The Rise and South 120 intersection
The precision of this intersection is extraordinary. How could people navigate through solid stone, with no deviation or false digging, so accurately as to tunnel up here to the sanctuary from the area at the Styx, around the dogleg and Chimney, up to here, to intersect so neatly at the entrance to the Sanctuary? The tunnel up from the back of the Styx also shows a precision of engineering that is hard to believe. Yet it exists.
It is here, where we see the shelf, close to the Inner Sanctuary where Doc Paget first found the two basket casts of Roman mortar, left to set in containers which had long since perished in the last 2,000 years. That these baskets were left here might indicate that the tunnel system was put out of commission in some haste. Perhaps seismic activity was felt and the workmen ran for their lives.
I am told that the shelf into South 120 is narrow and when negotiating it you are mindful of the danger of slipping off it and falling into the Rise.
The only way out today is back the way we came, down the Rise again. However, we are going to continue as far as we can along South 120, which I have described on the page about the dividing of the ways. It meets at the back of the dividing door. North 120 is a second tunnel, somewhat offset from the first, running about 2 metres (6 1/2 feet) across and up from the first. Likewise, North 120 also meets up behind the dividing door.
Doc Paget wrote: "Opposite the east ‘door’ there is a shelf running along the south wall of the Rise for about 6 metres (19 ½ feet), when it becomes the entrance to the 120 tunnels."
Where am I?
There is a massive amount of soil banked up here that makes further progress difficult, but not impossible. In spite of this tunnel being a long way from the surface buildings and fresh air, it is still possible to breathe, but the humidity and warmth make it uncomfortable.
"We… discovered a traverse on the north side, leading in 2 metres (6 ½ feet) to a parallel tunnel, which however, is at 2 metres (6 ½ feet) higher level. There is also a wedge-shaped chamber and door stops at this point, similar to that at the Dividing of the Ways" continued Doc Paget.
It is not easy to see where Doc Paget’s wedge-shaped chamber sits, but there are signs of some kind of door frame, a rebate, set into the wall near here.
Robert Temple emerging from the Traverse into South 120.
The sketch of the Traverse on the right here was drawn for this website from memory by a member of Doc Paget’s original archaeological team.
A short length of tunnel connects South 120 with North 120 in such a way that it meets North 120 low down in its wall.
Where am I?