Roman fort in Devon to be excavated in January

This seems to be a rescue dig on ground to be used for (modern) burials.

Tavistock Today

Rare Roman site under the spotlight

Thursday, 18 December 2008

TWELVE months after a Roman fort was discovered in Calstock, archaeologists are making a return to the site for a seven-week excavation project which they hope will reveal why it was built.
The site, next to St Andrew’s Church, is so important nationally that English Heritage has funded this second stage of the work and a team of six archaeologists from Exeter will start their dig on January 5.
Some geophysical surveys are being carried out this week in advance of the excavation, to give the experts an insight into what lies beneath.
Chris Smart from Exeter Archaeology said the excavation work would cover part of the interior of the fort, the rampart and other defences, the western entrance and the road leading into the fort.
‘We are likely to see the footprint of the building and get an idea about daily life in the fort,’ he said.
‘We want to answer questions about why it was there and how long it was there.’
Last year, charcoal samples from a metalworking furnace found at the site were sent to New Zealand for radiocarbon dating. This, together with pottery which was found, revealed that the fort was occupied from 60AD to around 120AD.
‘We have only investigated 0.2% of the interior of the fort, so we may find evidence elsewhere that it was occupied for a much longer period,’ added Mr Smart.
There was great excitement in the village when the Roman fort was unearthed last year — only the third to have been discovered in the county.
Exeter University archaeologists became interested in the site when they found references in mediaeval documents referring to the smelting of silver next to the church at Calstock.
They described the find as ‘rare, significant and very exciting.’
Mr Smart said this fort was four times the size of the others found in Cornwall and the team wanted to find out whether Calstock was a strategic point on the Tamar in Roman times — and how the fort might be significant in the mining history of the area.
‘The church and the existing burial ground, which we will not be disturbing, takes up about 40% of the whole site, so that area has been lost in terms of investigation, but we still have 60% which remains undisturbed,’ he said.
‘If we can excavate it now before the land is disturbed as an extension to the burial site, then we can document the findings.’
The excavation project will be open to the public, school and young archaeology groups on certain days during the seven week period so everyone can benefit from it and the team can give something back to the community.
The public open day is being held on Saturday January 31 from 10am to 4pm.
‘We are very, very pleased we have the funding so we can carry on with what we see as an ongoing project,’ said Mr Smart.
‘English Heritage has funded the work to prevent the loss of valuable information which is quite critical to local and national archaeology.’
Calstock parish council chairman Jerome Irons said: ‘I believe the discovery last year of the Roman Fort in Calstock was very important for us all and will possibly help to prove our mining heritage goes back 2000 years.
‘With the latest excavations I am sure this will not adversely affect the local residents and will prove a great educational opportunity for local schools and local history groups.’

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