Roman settlement discovered at housing development site

A Roman settlement has been discovered on former allotment land off Fordham Road by archaeologists commissioned to excavate the site by Hopkins Homes, which is hoping to build 96 new homes on the site.

Roman settlement discovered at housing development site
Aerial view of the dig site in Soham [Credit: Ely Standard]
Archaeology Solutions is carrying out the excavations and many items discovered so far point to an important Roman settlement. A spokesman said: “One Roman ditch has produced considerable quantities of a burnt spelt wheat crop - our sample alone contains around 10,000 seeds. 

Roman settlement discovered at housing development site
Roman settlement discovered at housing development site
Above: A display of some of the finds; Below: Some of the smaller items uncovered at the site [Credit: Ely Standard]
“It is believed that the crop may have been burnt during the drying process, perhaps whilst in the closely situated corn-dryer, and then disposed of in the ditch. Also of interest so far is a small amount of the fodder crop alfalfa (lucerne) which has been identified in a pit located in the south of the site. Although common to find on French and German sites, lucerne is quite unusual in a British context suggesting Soham’s Roman settlers were instrumental in introducing the crop to the area.”

Roman settlement discovered at housing development site
Some of the thousands of seeds found in a ditch [Credit: Ely Standard]
Among dozens of items discovered on the site are large pots and tiles, a decapitated body and a small Roman blade, Roman key, comb and pendant, a Bronze Age scraper and a Roman ring. The site shows that occupation continued at the site from the first century AD right through the 400 years of Roman settlement.

Author: Daniel Mansfield | Source: Ely Standard 24 [December 24, 2012]

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