New discoveries shed light on Romans in northern England
From Roman shoes and keys, to a rare amber figurine and the most northerly example of coin production ever found in Europe, Archaeologists have recently discovered a range of Roman objects through a major road improvement scheme in North Yorkshire.
|Archaeologists excavating Roman revetments, built to protect the river shore from erosion. This excavation was carried |
out in 2014, East of A1 on the south side of the River Swale near Catterick [Credit: Dr Jonathan Shipley]
They hint at a far more sophisticated industrial and administrative centre in Yorkshire than had previously been known about. They also point to wealthy citizens having lived in the area.
The extensive excavations have been carried out by Northern Archaeological Associates, on the advice of Historic England’s experts.
Top recent discoveries:
1. Amber carving: The figure of a toga-clad actor carved from a block of amber was recently found at Scotch Corner. Thought to have been made in Italy during the 1st century AD, a similar example was also found at Pompeii. Nothing like this has ever before been found in the UK.
|The figure of a toga-clad actor carved from a block of amber which was recently found at Scotch Corner. |
Nothing like this has ever before been found in the UK [Credit: Northern Archaeological Associates]
2. Coin Workshops: Workshops for making gold, silver and copper coins found near Scotch Corner represent the most northerly example of coin production ever found in Europe.
|Coin moulds [Credit: Northern Archaeological Associates]|
3. Roman shoes: A number of well-preserved Roman leather shoes have been found in Catterick, a town south of Scotch Corner known by the Romans as Cataractonium.
|A Roman leather shoe which is one of many found in Catterick [Credit: Northern Archaeological Associates]|
4. Roman keys: Many keys have been found at Catterick, from small keys on rings to larger ones for lifting latches.
|One of the many keys found in Catterick, North Yorkshire [Credit: Northern Archaeological Associates]|
5. Silver ring: A silver ring shaped like a snake which wraps around the finger has also been found in Catterick.
|A silver ring shaped like a snake which was found in Catterick [Credit: Northern Archaeological Associates]|
6. Pen and inkpot: A pewter inkpot and a number of styli, Roman pens, have also been discovered at Catterick, telling us that the town was a key administrative centre.
|A pewter inkpot and many styli, the Roman pens, revealed the most people of Cataractonium |
were able to read and write [Credit: Northern Archaeological Associates]
7. Lead plumb bob: A lead plumb bob from Cataractonium gives us evidence for construction methods used within the town and was perhaps even used in the construction of Dere Street and other roman roads at the site, giving us a fantastic insight into the engineering technologies of the time.
Earlier date for Romans in Northern England
The excavations have also led to the unearthing of a major Roman settlement at Scotch Corner which pre-dates settlements in York and Carlisle by 10 years, telling us that the Romans had a major presence and even possibly began their territorial expansion into northern England a decade earlier than previously thought.
|Archaeologists excavate a section of the Roman road [Credit: Dr Jonathan Shipley]|
The finds uncovered at the site, from brooches to gaming counters, suggest the people who lived here, as at Catterick, were wealthy.
The settlement seems to have only been occupied for a short period, perhaps no more than 20-30 years.
It probably became redundant as the Romans kept moving into the north and its demise seems to coincide with the rise of Catterick which we know was an administrative and economic centre in the north of England.
Neil Redfern, Principal Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England said: “The sheer amount of exceptional objects found on this road scheme has been extraordinary. Through them we are learning more and more about life here in the Roman period. This project has given us a unique opportunity to understand how the Romans conducted their military expansion into Northern England and how civil life changed under their control.”
|Archaeologists excavate a section of the Roman road [Credit: Historic England]|
Investigating and upgrading the A1
Works to upgrade the A1 through Yorkshire over the last 20 years have resulted in more than 60 miles of the road being investigated by archaeologists, from Ferrybridge near Leeds up to Piercebridge.
Since these excavations began in 2014, a team of around 60 archaeologists have discovered thousands of artefacts from a range of different periods, demonstrating that this area has been part of England’s story for thousands of years.
Source: Historic England [April 08, 2017]