Digging deep to find a host of Roman remains

Wessex Archaeology at work in Rossington
Wessex Archaeology at work in Rossington
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Up to 20 people once lived at this Rossington farmstead, growing crops, keeping cattle and drawing water from holes they dug in the boggy ground.

That was 19 centuries ago.

The secrets of this Roman-era settlement have been revealed by Sheffield company Wessex Archaeology which has just finished a two-year study of the area - ahead of the Rossington Inland Port development of warehouses and railway sidings.

Teams of up to 15 Wessex staff discovered foundation stones, ditches, four waterholes, Romano-British pottery and a cremation site.

‘Cropmarks’ in the landscape - lines, circles and squares of strong plant growth - indicate an extensive system of fields.

Wessex workers started with geophysical surveys, which revealed undergound features, and ‘trenching’ - a series of large but shallow scrapes a few feet deep.

A deeper excavation was undertaken once the site of the farmstead building was found.

Andrew Norton, manager of the Sheffield office, said: “We’re not digging up temples every day. On this site we are looking at normal folk.

“The second century AD was a period of relative calm in this area and the main concerns of these people would have been their crops and livestock.

“Peas are grown there today and it’s very interesting to see how little things have changed, apart from the technology - and even then much farm machinery was horse drawn up to World War Two.”

Pieces of a leather Roman boot were found nearby. The mixed agricultural economy was possibly organised from nearby villas, such as those found to the south-east at Stancil and to the west at Loversall and Wadworth.

Parrot’s Corner was once home to a Roman Fort, while Doncaster was a Roman town.

In total, Wessex Archaeology surveyed 100 acres and excavated a four-acre plot at Rossington. The iPort is set to cover 700 acres.

Andrew added: “We have just submitted our final report, a detailed document explaining exactly what we have done. The iPort project is an excellent opportunity to understand the archaeology over a wide landscape.

“That’s the end of phase one for us, but we hope to be called back.”