Roman town wall and skeleton uncovered at Sandy excavation site

PUBLISHED: 17:19 20 June 2018

Foundations of the Roman town wall. Picture: AOC Archaeology

Foundations of the Roman town wall. Picture: AOC Archaeology

Archant

Archaeologists have uncovered a Roman town wall at the Sandy cemetery dig site, in a first for Bedfordshire.

The Sandy archaeological dig site in Stratford Road. Picture: Chris RobsonThe Sandy archaeological dig site in Stratford Road. Picture: Chris Robson

The excavation off Stratford Road, which has been going on for more than two months, has turned up artefacts that date back to the 4th century.

Les Capon, project manager for AOC Archaeology, told the Comet it was an “exciting find, as it’s the first evidence of a defended Roman town in Bedfordshire”.

“We are digging the site in two halves and so far we have uncovered a Roman wall and skeleton,” he said.

“The wall is built of local iron stone and cemented together – as unbelievably, cement is a Roman invention. We don’t know the height of the wall as it was likely robbed for the stone when the Romans left.

The Sandy archaeological dig site in Stratford Road. Picture: Chris RobsonThe Sandy archaeological dig site in Stratford Road. Picture: Chris Robson

“It is the wall that ran around the settlement and it was an unknown wall before now.

“We have found one grave skeleton and around 20 small holes which were for cremated burials. We also think we have found the cremation pyre outside of the settlement walls, which is a very rare find.”

Sandy has been recognised as a Roman settlement since the 1800s, and archeologists expected to find artefacts dating back to Roman times at the dig site – which was required as part of the town’s cemetery development. But there have also been findings from the Saxon period.

“The remains of a Saxon house from after the Romans left has also been found, while loads of poetry and animal bones have also been discovered,” said Les.

Saxon sunken-floored building. Picture: AOC ArchaeologySaxon sunken-floored building. Picture: AOC Archaeology

The AOC team are delighted with what they have dug up, especially the skeleton they found.

“It’s all very pleasing, but finding the skeleton was extremely exciting as we are actually seeing a Roman,” said Les. “This has allowed us to trace back all the way to the 4th century.”

The excavation is continuing, with an open day for the public to come and see the site set be held next month. But Les is unsure as to what else his team will find.

“It’s hard to know how long we will be digging for and what we will find next,” he said. “We aren’t expecting anything big – just the ditches the Romans dug between their houses and threw household waste into.”

The dig findings will go to the Higgins Bedford Museum.

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