Friday, July 20, 2012

Glass, bones, pots and stones: The story of the Whitehall Roman Villa dig in Northamptonshire

IT all started 16 years ago, when metal detectorists walking a Northamptonshire field not far from Nether Heyford found enough coins and pots to suggest something far more exciting lay beneath.
Despite Whitehall Farm being in his family since the 19th century, farmer Nick Adams was surprised to learn just how much Roman archaeology was hidden beneath his land.
In 2000, following on from geophysical surveys and a few mini excavations, the Whitehall Farm Roman Villa and Landscape Project was launched.

Just as Nick farms sheep from the land today, it was discovered that his property was once home to a villa from which Romans also once farmed sheep to produce wool for the textile industry.
Each year, ever since the first discoveries, volunteer archaeologists from around the world have offered their time to deftly dig trenches, uncovering more than 250,000 artefacts in just over a decade.

This month marks the end of the final "big dig" of the Whitehall project, enabling both Nick and site manager and archaeology expert, Stephen Young, to reflect back on just how important some of these finds were.

Stephen said: "When metal detectorists found some coins and a pot, I was introduced to Nick and he was very keen to understand what was below the ground. We started from there and turned it into a huge community project.