A team from the Sheffield Office undertook excavations along the line of a new water main from Uckington to Atcham in Shropshire. The water main runs to the north of the Scheduled Monument (No. 1003705) of Wroxeter Roman City (Viroconium) which developed from the 1st century AD onwards, and became the fourth largest city in Roman Britain.
The excavations formed the latest phase of a programme of archaeological investigation on part of the wider Severn Trent Water Shrewsbury Resilience Scheme, following on from desk-based work and geophysical survey. The results of initial work were used during liaison and negotiation with several stakeholders, including the local authority, Natural England and the National Trust, and helped limit the impact of the scheme on potential archaeology in the area.
Three key areas of archaeological interest were identified during the excavations. Close to the banks of the River Tern, in a central section of the scheme, the team uncovered sections of an enclosure which appeared to have been associated with the storage of manufactured tiles during the Roman period. Other features in the vicinity, including a small bespoke pottery kiln, were thought to be associated with Roman pottery and tile production.
Close to Norton, in the eastern section of the scheme, were several intercutting ditches, the earliest of which was probably later prehistoric in date, with a palimpsest of later Roman period ditches overlying this. A post-built structure, several gullies, large post-holes, fine ceramic wares and evidence of metalworking indicated Roman period settlement in the vicinity, probably associated with vicus activity beyond the main fortifications of the city.
North-east of Norton, close to the projected line of the Roman Road from Wroxeter to Chester, and a later road from Uckington to Tern Bridge which had been abandoned by 1822, was part of a Roman roadside cremation cemetery although most of the cremation burials were damaged by later ploughing.
Post-excavation and reporting work on the project is ongoing but even at this early stage it is thought the information from the excavations will significantly enhance work carried out as part of the Wroxeter Northern Hinterland project in the 1990s, which has identified potential early Roman settlement activity north of the city.