Tag Archives: Roman fort

Roman villa discovered on site of new by-pass

VILLA: Archaeologists at work on the site.

Work  on a new bypass has revealed a Roman villa dating back to the third or fourth century AD which has lain hidden under farmers fields for hundreds of years.

Archaeologists say it is a significant find , and the first Roman villa to be discovered in North Yorkshire since the Second World War. It lies near Aiskew, Bedale, close to the A1 which is along the line of Dere Street, the original Roman road from Eboracum the capital of the north at York and the Roman fort of Cataractonium, now modern day Catterick.

Archaeologists discovered the site during initial excavations for the new £34m Bedale, Aiskew and Leeming Bar bypass and a dig has been carried out over the past four months.

“We expected to find some interesting archaeology but we never expected to find something quite so significant,” said Bedale Councillor John Weighell, leader of North Yorkshire County Council who are carrying out the work.

The villa is described as extensive with a series of rooms and one pavilion type room with under floor heating. There are small sections of mosaics, and evidence of plaster and concrete from floors and walls.

Development archaeologist Lucie Hawkins said:

”The rooms would have been painted in bright vibrant colours, it is a higher status building and would have had lots of colour.

 “It is quite a substantial size and was set within a landscaped environment and field systems. It is a very exciting find, you don’t discover Roman villas that often and because it was totally unknown before the excavations began it makes it more interesting.

“It helps us to look at the wider Roman world , the villa is quite close to the A1 which was a Roman road so we can build up a picture. We can’t say at the moment if it would have been connected to Cataractonium, there are other Roman settlements such as Aldborough.”

The dig is due to finish in the next couple of weeks and because it is a construction site people are not allowed on it. But a display held at a later date along with updates and a final report.

Cllr Weighell said the new road will cover part of the site but the council’s archaeological team has worked with English Heritage to gain as much knowledge as possible from the excavations.

 “It has certainly proved interesting, it is fascinating that nearly two thousand years ago there was a former civilisation here and this could help us find out more about it,”  he added.
Source – Northern Echo, 21 Mar 2015
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Head Of Brigantia Statue Uncovered In South Shields

RARE FIND ... The head of Brigantia which was found at Arbeia roman Fort in South Shields.

RARE FIND … The head of Brigantia which was found at Arbeia roman Fort in South Shields.

THE head of an ancient goddess has been unearthed at a South Tyneside Roman fort after being buried for1,800 years.

The discovery of the stone head was made by a member of the community archeology project WallQuest at Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields.

Experts believe it is possibly the goddess of the Brigantes, the tribe that inhabited northern Britain during Roman times.

Brigantia was known to have been worshipped in South Shields, with an altar dedicated to her found at the Baring Street site in 1895 only 100m away from this recent discovery.

Nick Hodgson, WallQuest project manager, said:

“The head is a truly wonderful find. Northern Britain was a dangerous place for the Roman army in the second century AD; if the goddess is Brigantia it shows how keen the Romans were to placate the spirits of the region.”

The relic was found in an aqueduct channel that was filled in about AD 208 to make way for the enlargement of the Roman fort when it became a supply base.

These finds seem to suggest that there may have been a shrine to Brigantia  somewhere close to the present excavation site at Arbeia.

It seems that the shrine got in the way of the extension to the fort and was demolished meaning the statue was broken up.

The head will go on display at Arbeia after conservation work in spring when the museum reopens for the 2015 season.

WallQuest will also return to the excavation sites at Arbeia in spring and members of the public are encouraged volunteer for the project.

Source –  Shields Gazette,  08 Oct 2014

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Developers “could buy County Durham Roman site”

Concerns have been raised that the site of a Roman settlement dubbed the Pompeii of the North could be sold to developers.

Binchester, just outside Bishop Auckland, County Durham, has some of Britain’s best-preserved Roman remains, including a bath house with seven-foot walls and painted plaster.

Last year a statue head, possibly of a local Roman god, was found by an archaeology student helping with the major excavation works that are being carried out.

The land where the settlement has stood for around 1,800 years is owned by the Church Commissioners. They are selling ten plots around Bishop Auckland, including two adjoining ones which cover the Binchester site.

The Auckland Castle Trust, financed by city philanthropist Jonathan Ruffer and which is aiming to reinvigorate the local area with tourism by tapping into its heritage, has made a £2 million bid for the plots.

Although the Roman settlement itself could not be developed, an old hall on one of the plots could be, affecting access to the site. Selling the plots off separately could also hamper archaeologists’ work.

 Mr Ruffer, chairman of the trust, said the £2 million bid was ten per cent higher than their own valuation of the site.

We have done this because there is no one else in a position to do it and Binchester must be secured by someone who has a heart for Bishop Auckland and a deep understanding of the site’s importance in a national and international context,” he said.

The trust has called for the public to back its bid by writing to the Church Commissioners.

David Ronn, chief executive of the Auckland Castle Trust, said: “We need to save the best of Bishop Auckland’s, County Durham’s, the North-East’s and indeed the UK’s past to take into the future.”

 Dr David Petts, lecturer in archaeology at Durham University who has been project co-ordinator on the Binchester excavation, said: “Binchester is one of the best preserved Roman archaeological sites in Britain and deserves to be protected for future generations to visit.”

Only a small percentage of the settlement, which surrounded a fort on the road north to Hadrian’s Wall, has been revealed so far.

Source –  Northern Echo, 29 Aug 2014

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Northumberland fort find gets to the bottom of Roman history

A rare find has allowed archaeologists to get to the bottom of everyday life at a Northumberland Roman fort.

What is believed to be the only wooden toilet seat to be found in the Roman Empire has been unearthed at Vindolanda on Hadrian’s Wall.

We are absolutely delighted with the find. The seat has survived because of the fantastic preservation conditions on site,” said Vindolanda director of excavations Dr Andrew Birley.

This site has also produced discoveries ranging from the famous Vindolanda wooden writing tablets and socks, to a gold coin and a gladiator drinking glass.

The seat was discovered by Dr Birley in the deep pre-Hadrianic trenches at Vindolanda. There are many examples of stone and marble toilet seat benches from across the Roman Empire but this is believed to be the only surviving wooden seat, almost perfectly preserved in the anaerobic, oxygen free, conditions which exist at Vindolanda.

Dr Birley said that in the chilly conditions of what was the northernmost limits of the Empire, a wooden seat would have been preferable to stone.

Wooden toilet seat found at Vindolanda

The Roman toilets would have been serviced by running water.

The Romans brought this toilet technology to Britain 2,000 years ago. It was cleanliness to the max compared with what had gone on before,” said Dr Birley.

The seat has been well used and was decommissioned from its original location and discarded amongst the rubbish left behind in the fort before the construction of Hadrian’s Wall started in the early Second Century.

Dr Birley said: “There is always great excitement when you find something that has never been seen before and this discovery is wonderful.

“We know a lot about Roman toilets from previous excavations at the site and from the wider Roman world which have included many fabulous Roman latrines but never before have we had the pleasure of seeing a surviving and perfectly preserved wooden seat.

“As soon as we started to uncover it there was no doubt at all on what we had found.

“It is made from a very well worked piece of wood and looks pretty comfortable.

“Now we need to find the toilet that went with it as Roman loos are fascinating places to excavate as their drains often contain astonishing artefacts.

“Let’s face it, if you drop something down a Roman latrine you are unlikely to attempt to fish it out unless you are pretty brave or foolhardy.”

Discoveries at Vindolanda from latrines have included a baby boot, coins, a betrothal medallion, and a bronze lamp.

Archaeologists now hope to find a spongia – the natural sponge on a stick which Romans used instead of toilet paper, and with over 100 years of archaeology remaining and the unique conditions for the preservation of such organic finds a discovery may be possible.

The wooden seat will take up to 18 months to conserve and once this process is complete the artefact will be put on display.

Source –  Newcastle Journal, 27 Aug 2014

 

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