Roman ruins found near Peterborough

Stuff that is interesting to me. 


‘Exceptional’ Roman ruins found at Wansford

AN "EXCEPTIONAL" ancient Roman site has been discovered in woodland near Peterborough.

Despite numerous digs and excavations across the region over the past two centuries, the huge site, hidden deep in woods at Bedford Purlieus, had miraculously gone unnoticed.

Early work has only scratched the surface of the Roman remains, but indications have left experts stunned by how well preserved the remains, of what appears to be a building of some importance, are.

Forestry Commission District Operations Manager, Hugh Manall said: "It’s unusual for us to find a site of this significance that we didn’t realise was there. Generally, sites as good as this are known about."

Experts believe the remains at the site, just off the A47 at Wansford, near Peterborough, probably date back to between the second and fourth centuries AD.

Excavations have been taking place at three areas in the woods thanks to funding from Augean Ltd’s landfill tax and Peterborough City Council.  City council archeologist Ben Robinson described the find as "exceptional".

He said: "I’ve not seen a Roman building as well preserved as this. The work we have done has shown we have got a building of quite some importance, with all the features of a high-status Roman site. This was something big and impressive."

Luxuries included in the building were heating and paintings hung on the wall.

And, because the site has been hidden in a forest, it has remained virtually undisturbed.

Mr Robinson said: "We’ve only scratched the tip of the iceberg, there’s a lot more to be discovered.

"But we have to be mindful that sites like this are rare and we shouldn’t destroy them by digging them up. We also have to be careful about the wildlife and rare plants in the forest, but I really hope we will get to do more there.

"The thing about this is people have been carrying out archaeological digs in this area for the best part of 200 years. You would think that with the amount of work that has gone on that everything has been discovered. This shows that’s far from the case, we’re getting new finds on a weekly basis.

"This area is a very, very exciting place to do archaelogy."

It was only a chance discovery that led archaeologists to the site. For 44 years forest craftsman Ricky Hannah worked in the woodland without ever noticing the massive remains.

Until one day in 2005, astonished Ricky suddenly spotted a strange rectangular lump.

He called in experts, who initially thought it was a 2,000 year-old travellers’ stop-over complete with bedrooms, baths and steam rooms – so it was nicknamed "Ricky’s Motel".

It is only after months of careful excavation that it has finally been confirmed that the find is actually Roman remains.

Speaking at the time of the discovery, Mr Hannah said: "I first noticed a lump and thought, well that looks like a corner. I followed the line and found another, and another, and another.

"Then I looked up and saw the site spreading out all around me up to 80 metres away.

"The managers wanted us be able to spot things that might turn out to be ancient remains. And blow me, after a while you find checking the ground for interesting lumps and bumps becomes addictive."


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  1. elizabeth mckernan says:

    This is particularly interesting news for me as I was born in Peterborough and strange to learn it from your American blog!

    I understand that there is considerable building work going on in the area and this of course often reveals evidence of ancient history. As a child I lived in an old house in the Cathedral close as my father had been the organist there for some twentyfive years. When we left Peterborough we heard that the kitchen , which had been in the more recent part of the building (only dating back to Queen Victoria) had been pulled down and the skeletons of three abbots were found buried under the floor. The rest of the house which had obviously formed part of the medieval monastery has been retained and converted into offices but not before a priest’s hole was discovered above where I once slept.

    When I mentioned the Abbots under the floor to the priest who received me into the Catholic Church, he commented that perhaps it was thanks to their prayers that I had come finally to the one true faith!

  2. elizabeth mckernan says:

    Your information has prompted me to look up Peterborough on the internet where I found an interesting item of ecumenical news.

    Last week a local priest became the first Catholic priest since the reformation to be made a canon of Peterborough Cathedral. I have not seen this news on any of the English catholic blogs though there must be many I have not visited.

  3. dad29 says:

    The Augean trust is funding this?

    By any chance, is one of the buildings a stable?

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