24 Aug 2010 16:38:00.000
Archaeological secrets from a Roman town dating back to the time of Boudica are to be caught on camera as they are unearthed as part of a dig by researchers at The University of Nottingham.
A team of University archaeologists, led by Associate Professor of Roman Archaeology Dr Will Bowden, will be the first for 75 years to excavate within the town walls of the Roman settlement Venta Icenoruma, at present day Caistor St Edmund in Norfolk.
Their discoveries will be filmed by Channel 4’s Time Team, as part of a special documentary due to be aired in the New Year.
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Dr Bowden said: “The new excavations follow the successful 2009 season at Venta Icenorum during which Roman burials were unearthed and we are hoping to uncover something equally as exciting during this latest project.
“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 Roman town is thought to have been established in the aftermath of Boudica’s failed rebellion in AD60/61. The new town was founded in the heart of the Iceni territory, functioning as its regional capital.
It has been long suspected that the Roman town was built on top of a major Iceni settlement, perhaps a tribal centre,. Geophysical surveys carried out by Tthe University of Nottingham team rein 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 to 1935 following the publication of dramatic aerial photographs showing the streets and public buildings but the site has since lain undisturbed.
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, seven days a week from Saturday August 21 until Saturday September 11. 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 which has given £67,000 to support three seasons of excavations, and the South Norfolk Alliance, which has contributed £13,600 to support the project’s programme of more than 150 volunteers.
As for the 2009 excavations, 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 it supplied the tools for the original excavation.
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