The remains of an ‘extremely rare’ Roman settlement- complete with graves, bronze coins, jewellery and pottery- have been unearthed on the site of a new housing development in Bolsover.
Evidence of buildings, pits, field systems and six graves dating to the Roman period were uncovered by archaeologists carrying out an excavation on the site, off Oxcroft Lane, where Jones Homes are building 127 new abodes.
The discoveries, which also included bronze coins dating back to the reign of Emperor Constantine the Great, have ‘delighted’ archaeologists, who said sites of such rich archaeological significance are ‘extremely rare’ in Derbyshire.
Although most of the evidence uncovered relates to the Roman period, the dig has also revealed Prehistoric field systems believed to have been introduced during the Bronze Age, which took place from around 2500 to 800 BC.
Reuben Thorpe, head at Field Archaeology at Archaeological Research Services, the company commissioned by Jones Homes to carry out the excavation, said: “The discoveries have exceeded our expectations.
“It has given us a fascinating insight into the way the settlements changed and how the land was used in different periods.
“We can see from the Prehistoric field systems that there was a certain way of doing things before the Romans arrived and imprinted their own distinctive systems onto the English landscape.
“We have found a variety of interesting artefacts during the course of the excavation, including a knee brooch, bronze coins and Roman pottery, some of which was imported from the south of France, suggesting European-wide trade links.
“The site contains evidence showing a long continuity of occupation, from the Bronze Age to the final decades of the Roman Empire.
“This previously undiscovered site is significant in telling the story of the Roman occupation of Derbyshire and we’re grateful to Jones Homes for their enthusiastic support of the investigations.”
A resident who lives on the estate with his family said: “My property backs out onto the site- there were originally two archaeologists but the number grew to about 14, and we knew it was something big.
“I spoke to the site manager who told me it was the remains of a Roman settlement. I’m not usually into this type of thing but it’s been quite exciting for the people living here.”
Jayne Swift, sales and marketing director for Jones Homes Yorkshire, said: “It has been absolutely fascinating to watch the progress of the archaeological excavation at our Cavendish Park development.
“We are thrilled that by bringing forward this development of new homes, we have enabled archaeologists to make these exciting discoveries and add to our understanding of the way our ancestors used the land in centuries past.”
Archaeological investigations have been completed on the first phase of the site and Jones Homes can proceed with construction in accordance with the anticipated build programmes.
Construction works will not take place on future areas until the archaeological investigations have been completed.
Cavendish Park will be located next to Jones Homes’ existing Cavendish Grange development, where 35 homes are being built.