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The modern town is underlain by an important, but enigmatic, Roman settlement. Significant Roman remains of a high-status building, possibly a villa, were discovered when the Minster School was constructed in 1959-1960. However, we know astonishingly little about the nature of the Southwell’s Roman settlement, its extent or how it developed into the beautiful town we know today.
One particularly interesting aspect of the town's history is how it developed through the Roman-medieval transition. There is evidence of a large Anglo-Saxon cemetery, perhaps relating to a religious establishment that preceded the foundation of the Norman Minster but, currently, the location of any associated Anglo-Saxon settlement is uncertain.
Today, the Minster dominates the town but there are many other equally important historic buildings in the centre and beyond, such as The Southwell Workhouse.