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Roman stately home unearthed in Scarborough 'potential world first'

A Roman villa unearthed on a building site has been described as potentially "the first of its kind" ever found. The remains of the large "stately home" and bath house were found on a site in Scarborough, in North Yorkshire.

Roman stately home unearthed in Scarborough 'potential world first'
The complex of buildings include a circular room and a bath house
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]

Historic England said the type of layout has "never been seen in Britain" and may be the first example "within the whole former Roman Empire". Inspector of ancient monuments Keith Emerick said it was "more than we ever dreamed of discovering".

The remains were discovered on the site of a new housing development being built in the Eastfield area of Scarborough. The excavations revealed a large complex of buildings, including a circular central room with a number of rooms leading off it and a bath house.

Roman stately home unearthed in Scarborough 'potential world first'
The site will be reburied under a public space in the new housing development
[Credit: MAP Archaeological Practice]

Mr Emerick said it was not clear what the building was used for but described it as a Roman version of a stately home, possibly owned by somebody of wealth and status. He added: "We've spoken to a number of leading Roman academics about it and we're all trying to find a comparable site and we are struggling. "So in that sense it is really significant. It's really exciting as well".

He said the villa may have later been adapted for religious purposes: "One of the descriptions we had was that it is something like a religious building that is almost like a gentleman's club, there's a bath house as well. So it's a really interesting hybrid building at the moment."

Roman stately home unearthed in Scarborough 'potential world first'
Composite of Roman villa complex [Credit: Historic England]

In order to protect the discovery housing developer, Keepmoat, has altered its plans so the remains will be conserved beneath a public open space rather than built on as originally intended. Mr Emerick said the site will be designated as a national scheduled monument and he hoped in the future it may be made accessible to the public.

Source: BBC News Website [April 14, 2021]

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