Roman remains on the allotment

by Jane Moore

...beneath the allotment site it's highly likely that there is a Roman villa, complete with a tessellated pavement.

Roman coinI'm not a great one for going to meetings there always seems to be something better to do. Weeding, reading or even cleaning are often more attractive options than going to a meeting. But this week the plot holders of Bathampton Parish allotment were invited to a meeting at the Village Hall to hear all about the proposed archaeological survey of the site. So, of course, I went along, hoping that my humble plot would be featuring alongside Tony Robinson and the Time Team.

Well, I won't be meeting the Time Team in the near future, but I did discover that beneath the allotment site it's highly likely that there is a Roman villa, complete with a tessellated pavement. Apparently, various Roman pottery sherds and coins, even gold ones, have turned up on the allotments over the years.

The experts, one from the local Bath and Camerton Archaeological Society and another from the university, told us that the site was discovered in the 19th century by a historically-minded vicar who had made a note of it on a map and left it alone. Now the university want to make a geophysical survey of the site to establish the orientation and existence of any walls and buildings. This involves gridding the allotment into squares and then walking over it with a resistance monitor. The boffins were anxious to get the agreement of the plot holders and to time the survey so as to cause minimum disruption to the growing of crops.

As a result of the meeting it looks like the survey will take place in the autumn. In the meantime, I suspect there will be an awful lot of double or even triple digging going on in the hopes of turning up a Roman coin or two.

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Gardeners' World Web User 20/02/2009 at 21:40

I wonder if your plot was actually the remains of a Roman allotment, they must have grown their veg locally as they didn't have the means that we do to import every thing from abroad,I wonder what they grow most of for their diet must have been quiet differant from ours.

Gardeners' World Web User 21/02/2009 at 20:31

Legend has it that we have buried Spitfires under our allotments, perhaps like King Arthur they sleep ready to fly again when England is in peril? There is some truth in it because the site in Cowley, Oxford is the remains of Cowley Airfield where metal planes like Spitfires were repaired, unlike the Hurricane which was wood and could be repaired at base. The remaining planes which had been cannibalised for spares were bulldozed and pushed in a hole in the ground. The only formation flying these days is done by the local starlings which can produce a good display. On occasions I have heard the ghostly rumble of perhaps a Merlin engine revving! No it turned out to be some bros with Harley Davidson's in a garage near-by tuning their engines.

Gardeners' World Web User 23/02/2009 at 18:26

Apparently Roman soldiers would put a leaf of shield sorrel on their tongue to alleviate thirst while marching.

Gardeners' World Web User 26/02/2009 at 22:17

We have a five year archaeological dig on our allotments in Dorchester on Thames. They can only dig for three weeks a year and they rent the plots they are digging on. We have a Saxon village and a Roman fort under neath our plots. The whole site is a scheduled ancient monument.

Gardeners' World Web User 27/02/2009 at 09:29

This subject (Roman food in Britain) was to be the basis of my Masters degree, now many years ago. I got sidetracked by a handsome young man and got married instead!! So instead of boring everyone with my thoughts, you can learn more at: which has a nice brief article on 'what they ate'. Actually there's loads of information out there and I could spend days following links to yet more links...

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