Dig unearths insight into life before the Romans

By Jon Moreno

Saturday, August 21, 2010

 

Dig unearths insight into life before the Romans

The Big Dig 2010 at Brading Roman Villa. Picture by Robin Crossley.

THE third phase of the Big Dig at Brading Roman Villa may well have been one of the toughest excavations eminent archaeologist Sir Barry Cunliffe had ever undertaken but it has yielded some treasures and a greater understanding of Brading’s history up to its Roman occupation.

With the three-week dig ending yesterday (Friday), Sir Barry’s team has unearthed, over the past two weeks, numerous pottery remains, ranging from pieces of amphorae to a tray for sifting sea water to extract salt.

The discovery of a second century BC saucepan became the earliest evidence of occupation on the site, pushing its history back as much as two centuries.

Examples of early jewellery were also found, which included an example of a small mid-first century AD brooch inlaid with enamel.

A butt beaker, a type of Gaulish pre-Roman period drinking vessel, bronze tweezers, a flagon and a cremation jar were also discovered.

During the first week of the dig, Sir Barry’s team unearthed a rare cooking pot and a copper coin bearing the image of a goddess.

This year’s dig concentrated principally on a site to the rear of the villa’s car park.

There is, according to Sir Barry, strong evidence the villa was a high-status farmstead in the late Iron Age, trading with the Romans before the AD43 invasion of Britain.

"We’ve got reminders of Mediterranean manners and lifestyle before the Roman invasion and them being incorporated into community life," he explained. "It is likely salt was a product of this area. The farmstead may well date back to an earlier period of the Iron Age. The dig was unrelenting — one of the toughest sites to dig any of us has ever seen.

"Yet it yielded a host of fascinating features and gave us a real understanding about the villa story."

Reporter: jonm@iwcpmail.co.uk

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