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Stratford's Roman past revealed

ARCHAEOLOGISTS are shedding light on Stratford’s Roman past after a number of discoveries at a housing development.

Roman archaeology (47285512)
Roman archaeology (47285512)

The finds include three early Roman brooches dating back to the 1st century AD and a large number of pottery shards.

The excavation has been taking place for more than a month, with most activity taking place close to the Ridgeway.

Developers Taylor Wimpey and Miller Homes commissioned an archaeological investigation of the land in 2013 and 2014 as part of planning permission for the site. That work uncovered a Roman coin and pieces of pottery, and archaeologists concluded that a large settlement or farmstead had been situated on higher ground at the south-east of the site.

Now the land has yielded more finds.

Example of a 1st Century Roman Brooch found in Alcester (Picture credit Warwickshire Museum) (47303171)
Example of a 1st Century Roman Brooch found in Alcester (Picture credit Warwickshire Museum) (47303171)

Rebecca Barry, who lives opposite the site in Bishopton Lane, said: “They must have been working there for months now – it’s really exciting that they’ve found these things. You can see the outline of their dig from here and you see them up to their shoulders in the trenches. It’s so interesting.

“Their dig has been concentrated up the top here, along the Ridgeway.”

Dr Bob Bearman, from the Warwickshire Local History Society, said: “The site is close to the intersection of two ancient routeways and although, in a sense, the existence of some sort of settlement there would not in itself be surprising, on the other hand, if archaeology confirms this, it would be a major step forward, not least because we would get an idea of when it was occupied.

“It certainly is very interesting that they have made finds like this. Stratford does have some Roman history – there was a Romano-British settlement discovered on the south side of the river at Tiddington, I think in the 1920s.”

Local archaeologist Ian Greig said: “In the initial assessment you can read that they carried out a geophysics survey. If you’ve seen Time Team, they walk over the area and if conditions are favourable it can give you a good plan of the site.

“It’s pretty clear from that they’ve probably found a Roman farmstead or settlement. Alcester was the big Roman settlement in this area, but there was a village at Tiddington that was excavated in the 1920s and 1980s. There would have been smaller settlements dotted around the countryside, so finds like this are important for building up a picture of the local area.

“These types of objects may not be unusual to find, but they’re certainly interesting and help build up that regional picture.”

Susan Juned, chair of Alcester Roman Heritage Trust, said: “I’m always delighted when they make Roman finds. Each one helps us build a better picture of what this area was like in Roman times.

"The thing that amazes me from what we’ve found previously in Alcester is the distance objects have travelled. Of course you get locally-made pottery, but also areas such as Gaul and even further afield.

“I hope that Warwickshire County Council museums are contacted about these finds because it would be fantastic if we could have them on display at some point.”

A spokesperson for Stratford District Council said archaeological fieldwork was expected to be finished by the end of May and the finds would help establish a chronology for activity across the site.

A spokesperson for Miller Homes and Taylor Wimpey said: “An archaeological investigation is being conducted at the new consortium site. This is a standard requirement for most planning applications.

“The investigations are ongoing and, once complete, the results will be assessed by the local planning authority to determine if further archaeological works and/or appropriate mitigation measures will be necessary.

"Based on the current information, there would appear to be no constraint to any proposed future development.”

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