Time Team Series 17: Rooting For The Romans (Bedford Purlieus Wood, Cambridgeshire)

Broadcast 17 April 2011

In the early 19th century the antiquarian Edmund Tyrell Artis came across the remains of a Roman site in the woods near Peterborough. He claimed to have found Roman statues, buildings and burials, surrounded by evidence for ironworking, but he only ever published drawings and a map, and over time his site was lost, until being rediscovered in 2005 by the Forestry Commission.

An earthwork survey and evaluation trenches by Northamptonshire Archaeology (NA) identified a range of buildings and a possible courtyard (interpreted as a courtyard villa), a series of large quarry pits, and an enclosure with evidence of ironworking.

Time Team aimed to follow up NA’s findings with further trenches. The range of buildings turned out to be fairly basic and utilitarian in nature – no sign here of painted wall plaster or other ‘high status’ elements. However, a raised platform in the south-east corner of the courtyard produced not just painted plaster but also box flue tiles from a possible hypocaust system; this may have been the site of the villa’s bath-house.

The enclosure to the west of the villa was confirmed as being industrial in nature, by the identification of an iron ore-roasting floor. A trench through one of the quarry pits found evidence of iron ore extraction, the disused quarry being subsequently used as a dump for domestic waste from the villa.

Gallery

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