Iron Age and Romano-British evidence


Discoveries from 2015 also included three roundhouses likely to have been inhabited during the Late Iron Age to early Romano-British period (100 BC to AD 400). The timbers houses, which would have been between 12 and 14 metres in diameter, had long since decayed, but they were identifiable by the remains of their drip gullies. These were small ditches cut around the outside of the houses to catch rainwater dripping off their conical thatched roofs and stop it from seeping inside. A decorated comb made from animal bone was found within one of the drip gullies, and is likely to have been used for weaving on a loom. 
Several of our excavations have revealed other evidence for Romano-British activity, spanning all four centuries of the Roman occupation (AD 43 to AD 410). Although it is thought that direct Roman rule did not spread much further west than Exeter, our findings show that the influence of Roman Britain was strongly felt on this site. This suggests that the inhabitants at Sherford had become partly integrated into the economy and way of life of the Roman Empire – despite being at its far western edge. 
In 2016 we excavated part of a Romano-British settlement, of a size that could have supported a small group of people farming the surrounding landscape. Features excavated so far include a roundhouse, postholes and ovens, while the artefacts, such as a rotary quern stone (used to grind grain into flour) and a very rare spoon mould (used in metalworking), suggest that this was a thriving community. 
Near the settlement we also found evidence of Romano-British burials. Although very little bone survived, items such as coffin nails and hobnails were found in the graves. In one case a complete shoe was identified in the form of over 40 hobnails. 
Once all of the evidence is analysed, we hope to be able to say much more about the people who lived here, farming and trading across the western boundary of the Roman Empire. Maybe our excavations will even lead to a redrawing of that boundary.