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Bypass construction site is gradually giving up its 2,000-year-old secrets

By Herald Express  |  Posted: December 20, 2012

  • hggh: South Devon link road press conference Aller

  • dig: Steve Reed, from the Devon County Council historic environment team, shows where the excavations in a field have revealed Roman ditches and remains Torquil MacLeod TQTM20121218B-001_C

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THE builders of Kingskerswell bypass have uncovered the remains of a 2,000-year-old Roman settlement and an 800-year-old medieval building.

Archaeologists are exploring the area at Aller Cross near the now demolished house Hazelbank which they believe was home to a late Roman enclosure which could date as far back as 200BC.

It is believed to be one of the few high quality Roman style dwellings found this far south west.

Archaeologists have found large quantities of pottery, some of which have come from as far afield as southern France and Spain, while that produced in Britain has come from Oxfordshire, Dorset, Hampshire and in South Devon.

The pieces of stone and ceramic tile recovered hint at a highly Romanised building, with one of the more interesting discoveries being a piece of slate engraved on both sides with geometric decoration and one by an artist with great skill.

The archaeologists are also exploring some earthwork platforms at Edginswell Lane on the other side of Kingskerswell, as there is evidence of medieval houses on the site with limestone walls.

The Roman ditch remains were found in the fields near the junction of Kingskerswell Road with Aller Road and Old Newton Road.

The large rectangular ditched enclosure appears to have been modified three times, probably as a result of ever-increasing wealth and the construction of more elaborate buildings inside the enclosure.

Quarrying in the area means no evidence survives of the building, but some of the artefacts recovered give an indication of its quality.

The archaeological team, led by Simon Hughes, of Bradninch-based AC archaeology, are carrying out the work on behalf of Devon County Council and Torbay Council.

Mr Hughes said: "It is really exciting to work on this project as the quality of the archaeological remains, in particular the finds, are unusual for rural Devon."

Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet member for highways and transportation, said: "These are important findings. Being environmentally aware is a key concern throughout the project and we are pleased that these remains have been found."

Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver said: "Once the archaeologists have finished their work on site I'm sure many people will be looking forward to attending the talks and seeing the artefacts so they can learn more about these fascinating discoveries."

The previously undiscovered medieval building remains are located closer to the village and date from around the 13th century.

These comprise well-built stone walls, as well as a trackway leading to the building from the main road. It is possible the building was perhaps abandoned at a time when the Black Death arrived in Britain.

The archaeologists are due to finish work in the New Year

The work will not affect progress on the 5.5km dual carriageway on which work began in October.

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