September 9, 2020 1.08 pm This story is over 37 months old

Nearly 2,000 years of history uncovered south of Grantham

Bones, pottery among interesting discoveries

Human remains, animal bones, pottery, brooches and almost 400 Roman coins were among thousands of artefacts discovered along the route of the Grantham Southern Relief Road.

AOC Archaeology were contracted to research the site’s archaeology, with other finds including roof tiles, an iron sickle, a copper spoon handle and remarkably well-preserved stone walls.

The human remains included at least eight new-born babies, who died in the second or third centuries AD.

Roman buildings terraced into the hillside. Photo: LCC

Kiln showing that pottery was being made on the site. Photo: LCC

A Roman coin made of copper. Photo: LCC

Catherine Edwards, Project Manager for AOC Archaeology, said: “Although the finds are yet to be looked at by specialists, we believe the oldest activity dates back to the Romano-British period, somewhere between 100 and 410 AD.

“The first step of our investigation was to carefully strip the site’s topsoil. Once the material was moved off-site, we were able to move in and start our investigations.

“First, we used a range of heavy tools, like shovels, spades, picks and barrows, to expose features and artefacts. We then used lighter hand tools, like trowels and hand brushes, to excavate and clean what we’d uncovered.

“A full written record of each feature or layer is then produced, describing its function, form and relationships with other features. Each discovery is also photographed, and GPS equipment is used to locate each one accurately on a plan. This allows us to ‘recreate’ the site and tell its story.”

Roman brooch with traces of red enamel. Photo: LCC

X-ray of an enamelled Roman brooch showing the metal wire used to layout the pattern. Photo: LCC

WSP is the company advising the county council on highway design and environment compliance.

Phil Weston, Senior Archaeological Consultant at WSP, said the three most significant finds discovered as part of the investigation are:

  • Several well-preserved Roman buildings. One building was terraced into the hillside and WSP believe that a landslip caused it too collapse
  • Burials – as well as a grave containing the remains of several adults, the remains of at least eight new-born babies, who were found buried under the floors and foundations of some of the buildings
  • Industrial features – a very well-preserved pottery kiln and several other furnace/oven bases were uncovered

AOC Archaeology have been working on site to uncover the remains of the building. Photo: LCC

Aerial view of one the buildings. Photo: LCC

The base of an oven or furnace. The red colour of the soil shows that it has been heated to a high temperature. Photo: LCC

Councillor Richard Davies, executive member for highways, said: “When building a new road, it’s not just about constructing bridges and laying tarmac. First and foremost, it’s really important to understand and protect the area’s heritage so future generations to learn from and understand its rich history.

“For example, these investigations where Grantham’s new relief road will be built will greatly contribute to our understanding of the Roman settlement at Saltersford, just south of where Grantham is now – particularly what sort of activities were taking place here hundreds and thousands of years ago and how our Grantham fits into the country’s historical picture.

“It’s truly amazing when you stop and think about what’s underneath the ground below your feet.”

One of the terraced buildings. Photo: LCC

Roman buildings terraced into the hillside. Photo: LCC

The entire Grantham Southern Relief Road will open during 2023.