On Saturday 21st August, new excavations will start at the Roman town of Venta Icenorum at present day Caistor St. Edmund, led by
Dr Will Bowden.
The new excavations follow the successful 2009 season in which Roman burials were unearthed.
This year, however, for the first time in 75 years, excavations will be carried out within the walls of the Roman town itself.
The project will be filmed by
Channel 4’s Time Team for a special documentary.
The Roman town is thought to have been established in the aftermath of Boudica’s failed rebellion of AD60/61. The new town was founded in the heart of the Iceni territory, functioning as its regional capital.
It has long been suspected that the Roman town was built on top of a major Iceni settlement, perhaps a tribal centre. Geophysical survey carried out by the Caistor project reinforced this impression, showing possible prehistoric features beneath all the areas of the Roman town. The aim is to establish whether the Roman town occupies the site of a much older settlement and to establish when precisely the streets of the Roman town were laid out. It is also hoped to find out if the town continued beyond the Roman period.
Parts of the site were excavated from 1929-1935 following the publication of dramatic aerial photographs showing the streets and public buildings, but the site has since laid undisturbed.
Dr. Bowden said “No-one has dug in the town itself for 75 years and so it’s a remarkable opportunity to really get to the heart of one of Norfolk’s archaeological jewels”.
The site is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and managed in partnership with South Norfolk Council. The excavations will be open to the public, free of charge, 7 days a week from 21st August until 11th September. As well as the excavations there will be a small exhibition and activities for children.
Funding for the new project has been raised partly through the University of Nottingham and partly through Caistor Roman Project Ltd, a charitable company set up to help the work. Support comes from the British Academy who have given £67,000 to support three seasons of excavation and the South Norfolk Alliance, who have contributed £13,600 to support the project’s volunteer programme (which now involves more than 150 people). As in 2009, May Gurney Ltd and A Plant are providing all the heavy equipment for the project. May Gurney’s connections with Caistor Roman town extend back to 1929, when they supplied the tools for the original excavation.
Will Bowden is available for interview (firstname.lastname@example.org) and will be on site on Wednesday 19th August and daily from Friday 20th August.
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Posted on Monday 16th August 2010