Roman Find in Cullompton

DFN: Cullompton is 1 1/2 hours away from Tintigel, the supposed site of one of Arthur’s castles.

Roman finds on show in Cullompton
11:54am Friday 11th December 2009
By Jon Wills »
http://www.middevonstar.co.uk/news/4789904.Roman_finds_on_show_in_Cullompton/

A NEWLY-discovered Roman settlement in Cullompton will be open to the public tomorrow (Saturday).

The site at Shortlands Lane has been excavated over the past couple of months by South West Archaeology as part of a planning condition on a development in the town.

An open day is being held at the location from 10am to 3pm.

Devon County Council’s Historic Environment Service asked for the excavation as it was thought that the site would contain archaeology from the medieval settlement at Cullompton – but the exposure of Roman finds and features, including a large quantity of 2,000 year old Roman pottery, was unexpected.

Finds from the Shortlands Lane site have been tentatively dated to the 2nd and 3rd century AD, which may suggest that what has been found is the Roman settlement at Cullompton that post-dates the abandonment of the fort in the 1st century AD.

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Environmental and Regulatory Services, said: “The discovery of a Roman settlement under the heart of Cullompton is a real surprise.

“It casts more light on the development of Roman Devon, and adds to our understanding of the evolution of one of Devon’s main market towns, so I hope anyone interested can make the open day to find out more.”

Councillor John Berry, Devon County Councillor for Cullompton Rural, said: “This site is great news for Cullompton, and I’d encourage people to take this opportunity to visit the site on the Open Day.

Having seen the work at the site first hand, the excavation has uncovered some interesting artefacts and features that provide us with an incredible insight about our town in Roman times, and who knows what else lies beneath Cullompton.”

Imported pottery from Gaul and regionally produced black-burnished ware from Dorset have been uncovered, as well as fragments of amphora – a vessel in which goods such as oil and wine would have been imported from the Mediterranean.

A fragment of hypocaust tile has also been found which indicates that there was once a substantial ‘Romanised’ house in the vicinity that had underfloor heating.

Features on site include gullies and ditches that may be property or field boundaries. Several pits have also been exposed, and one of the more exciting finds suggests that the site may have also been used as a burial ground in the Roman period.

An incised slate gaming board that had been placed over a pit containing two ceramic vessels which may contain cremated human remains has also been exposed by archaeologists working on the site.

South West Archaeology’s Project Officer, Dr Brynmor Morris, said: “I’ve really enjoyed digging at Cullompton.

“It’s been a rewarding couple of months – if a little damp – and when we’ve finished we will have put Roman Cullompton firmly on the map.”

The Open Day will begin at The Walronds in Fore Street, Cullompton, where some of the finds will be on display, along with an exhibition interpreting some of the archaeological features from the excavation.

Visitors can then join a guided tour of the excavation site and have the opportunity to meet one of the team of archaeologists who has been uncovering the history of Cullompton.

Excavation tours will be conducted every hour, starting at 11am and finishing at 2pm.

Cullompton is home to other known Roman archaeology, including the forts at St Andrews Hill just to the north of the excavation site which were identified through aerial photography by the County Archaeologist Frances Griffith in 1984.

Pottery from the hilltop and from limited excavations dates the forts to between AD 50 and 70 – the period of Roman military conquest and consolidation in the South West.

It is possible that Shortlands Lane, to the west of the site, may be a Roman road or trackway leading to the entrance in the southern side of the fort.

The Open Day is free and all ages are welcome. As the site is uneven, visitors are advised to wear stout footwear.

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