Archaeologists have stumbled upon the remains of a major Roman villa site at Emersons Green that no one knew was there.
The team from Wardell Armstrong Archaeology had no idea that they would unearth the high status villa site and industrial buildings, which cover almost ten acres.
Finds included a large quantity of jewellery, including bronze brooches, babies’ bracelets, rings and necklaces, as well as pottery. They will be end up in local museums for everyone to see.
The dig also revealed the remains of cremations and burials at the site, and soil samples suggest there used to be metal working and textile dyeing carried out in the industrial buildings.
Helen Martin-Bacon, regional director for Wardell Armstrong Archaeology and the lead archaeologist on the project, told The Week In: “This was a very unexpected find. There was nothing to indicate the site held such significant remains, even though previous evaluation works had been carried out, and it was a complete surprise to everyone concerned.
“I don’t think there are any comparable examples of such a site in that area so this is probably a first.”
Helen believes the site dates back as far as Neolithic times and was occupied throughout the Iron Age and into the Roman period.
She went on: “Making a discovery like this is double-edged because finding some wonderful archaeology is very gratifying, but from the client’s perspective it can be a concern as it can be a costly business and it can delay the construction programme.
“Fortunately in this case, it didn’t cause any delays and I can say Taylor Wimpey has observed the very best practice in every respect. It has funded this major excavation which will contribute significantly to our knowledge of the history of the region and these finds will now go into local museums for people to see.”
Helen and her team will be studying and dating the finds, before producing a full report on their findings.
Taylor Wimpey plans to begin construction work on the site in 2014, once detailed planning permission has been granted.