Roman remains found on The Dings removed; Developers respond
Published on: 29 Mar 2017
Roman remains found on The Dings removed; Developers respond
Residents in Lockleaze were up in arms as news broke that the Roman ruins recently discovered in the area had been dug up and removed to a safe location.
Work has been going on to construct the new outdoor Sports Centre with the site currently occupied by Dings Crusaders, Lockleaze’s premier rugby club, being sold to Redrow Homes who have plans for the construction of 152 new homes on the site. The site can be clearly seen from Bonnington Walk. As part of plans already in place Dings Crusaders will be re-locating to new purpose-built facilities in Hambrook.
After the work was started an archaeological find was made of substantial Roman remains which led to archaeologists being called in, supervised by South Gloucestershire’s own archaeologist, with house building stopping. The find has been described as the most important archaeology discovery in the area.
Local resident and educator Steve England said he asked the archaeologists if they could hold an open day to show local residents what they had found, and they agreed. But having seen the archaeologists leave, the house-building start again and all the Roman artefacts removed he says he is furious, especially as no community involvement or open day will be held as was promised.
“There was an Iron Age and Roman industrial site here and it's the biggest archaeological discovery in this area, ever. I came across it a year ago, and agreed that I'd keep quiet about it and that they'd hold an open day when the dig was done to show everyone what they found. It's the kind of thing that would really interest local people here in Lockleaze. They could have opened it up to thousands of people for one day, and people would have loved to find out more. They could have got the schools in, and shown them everything. I am furious now after seeing the diggers come back, and work re-starting. They've basically bulldozed the site, obliterated it, and all the stuff they found has been taken away. We're not going to see it again. It made me so angry, the fact that they never kept to their side of the agreement and also the fact that whatever was there has now gone forever and they had denied so many children and local people of Lockleaze and beyond the once in a lifetime opportunity to see this, and it just proved the point that their reputation as a homebuilder engaging with our communities was pathetic”, he added.
Speaking excusively to The Horfield and Lockleaze Voice a spokesperson for Redrow Homes says,” Redrow are to donate a series of rare Roman artefacts that were excavated from the site of one of its developments in Lockleaze to the Bristol Museum.
The house builder paid for the full excavation of the site at the former Dings rugby club in North Bristol after discovering the buried remains of a Roman villa when preparing the land for development.
Redrow employed CgMs as archaeological consultants and an expert team from Cotswold Archaeology to fully excavate and record the remains at the site from August to November last year, and to recover any artefacts of historic significance.
Now all the items recovered from the site are being carefully cleaned, conserved and catalogued by Cotswold Archaeology in preparation for further post-excavation work.
Once the post-excavation work is complete, Redrow plans to give the ancient items to the Bristol Museum, where the public will be able to view them and where they will be available for study by future generations of archaeologists.
Working with the archaeology team, the housebuilder also plans to host an exhibition detailing some of the finds at a location near the site. Talks will be hosted for history enthusiasts, school children and any other interested parties to hear more about what was discovered at the site.
Lee Hawker, managing director of Redrow Homes South West, said: “We’re really pleased to be able to donate these amazing finds to the Bristol Museum, to be studied and enjoyed by all its visitors.
“Working with South Gloucestershire Council, CgMs and Cotswold Archaeology, we invested heavily in ensuring this site was thoroughly studied and excavated. The findings are now going through a rigorous process of post-excavation assessment, analysis and publication which will add considerably to our knowledge of the Roman period in this area.
“It may take a few years for every single artefact to be fully cleaned, conserved and analysed, but once this is done, they will go to the museum.”
During their dig, the archaeologists discovered that the Dings was once home to a substantial Roman villa but while the foundations of the shell of the building had survived reasonably well, it was clear that most of the contents had been removed already.
While classified as a rare find, after extensive study the site was not deemed worthy of preservation in situ. The villa was of relatively low status and had subsequently been robbed and disturbed.
It was however fully excavated and all items of significance removed for safe preservation, storage and in the future, public display.
The Roman villa, and the earlier features, was fully excavated and after this had been completed, South Gloucestershire Council signed off the archaeological fieldwork giving Redrow permission to proceed with the development of the 152 new two, three and four bedroom homes planned for the site.
Paul Driscoll, archaeology and historic environment officer at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “The project management and consultancy was undertaken by CgMs and the fieldwork undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology. Both these elements have been delivered to the highest professional standards, which is particularly impressive considering it was such an unexpected discovery. The project took an iterative approach which we envisage can be used as the basis for projects elsewhere in South Gloucestershire and perhaps further afield”.