(ORDO NEWS) — This was done during excavations in the construction area of the railway between London and Birmingham.
Near a small village in South Northamptonshire, Central England, archaeologists from MOLA Headland Infrastructure were excavating an Iron Age village that had grown into a wealthy Roman trading town.
The existence of an archaeological site in the area was known as early as the 17th century, and initial surveys and analyzes provided some insight into what might be found. However, the scale and quality of the finds at this site exceeded all expectations.
The place, known as Blackgrounds (the name is given because of the black color of the soil), has not been plowed for centuries – according to all available information, the field was used as a pasture.
And pastures usually not only prevent the destruction of archaeological sites that occur during plowing or development of the area, but also, thanks to livestock waste and specific soil, seal what is under them. This is what happened in Blackgrounds.
The original use of the site began in the Iron Age. Archaeologists have found a village of more than 30 round houses, as well as a road from the same period. Then a city with stone buildings and new roads appears on this place.
Given the close proximity of Iron Age remains, archaeologists consider it likely that the locals continued to live on the site during the Roman period and adapted to the new way of life. This “Romanization” included the adoption of Roman customs, building techniques, as well as products and even cosmetics.
A Roman road 10 meters wide passes through the site. This exceptional width indicates that the settlement was on a very busy trade route, with wagons driving in and out at the same time to load and unload goods. Probably, the wealth of the settlement was based on trade, and not only along the Roman road: the Charwell River flows nearby, at that moment navigable.
Experts have found more than 300 Roman coins, which, judging by the places of the finds, were once simply lost. If the population is calm about such losses, it means that a significant volume of trade passed through this territory.
The layout of the site suggests that the settlement was divided into different districts, and the foundations of both residential buildings and those used for handicrafts were found. It should be noted that the wealth of the city rested not only on trade: archaeologists found workshops, furnaces, and in one of the zones of the site the earth still retained a fiery red color – this indicates that the territory was used for activities related to roasting. Perhaps there were foundries in which metal was processed, or pottery kilns.
Of course, not only the coins lost by scattered townspeople speak of the wealth of the city. If you don’t find expensive household items in a place where there are a lot of coins, then most likely the coins fell out of the pockets of visiting merchants, and the city itself did not prosper. Everything is different here.
Glass vessels, finely crafted and well-painted ceramics, and jewelry were raised from the ground. In addition, traces of galena, lead sulfide, were found at the excavation site, a substance that the Romans ground, mixed with oil and paints, and then women used the resulting mixture as cosmetics (of course, this was harmful to the skin and health in general).
A rather interesting find at the excavations was half a set of shackles: they indicate the presence of either criminal activity or slave labor.
Archaeologists estimate that at least hundreds of people lived in the city. Apparently, the place was inhabited during the entire period of Roman rule: some traces indicate that around the middle of the first century, literally after the arrival of the first legions in Britain, Roman-type defensive structures appeared in the village with round houses. But there is no evidence of fighting in this area. Most likely, the legionnaires passed the neighborhood quickly, without meeting resistance.
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