Roman temple site in Southwell

This is Nottingham

A LEADING archaeologist believes a missing link in history could be uncovered at an emerging Roman temple site in Southwell.

Bryn Walters, director and secretary of the Association for Roman Archeology, says a significant link between Paganism and Christianity could be uncovered at the former Minster School site.

Archeologists who unearthed a large wall dating back as far as 43AD suspect it may be part of a complex of religious buildings including a Roman pagan temple and bathing monument, known as a ‘nymphaeum’.

The wall is made from large smooth-faced sandstone blocks typically used for lavish Roman buildings.

Mr Walters, an archeologist of more than 30 years, says it is rare for a such a significant find to be discovered close to a “major centre for Christianity” like Southwell Minster.

He is calling for archeologists to be given time and resources to conduct a thorough search of the area to yield artifacts which may prove a link between the two religions.

Mr Walters said: “Southwell is something special. What we have got here is the transition between Paganism and Christianity.

“It is the continuation of religious practice on that site.

“Southwell has developed into a very major centre for Christianity.

“There are Roman buildings very close by. Now this possible pagan temple has turned up.

“Southwell could prove to be important for research into the development and transition of religion from the Roman through to modern times.

“We need to extract the maximum amount of information from the area before it’s lost forever.”

The discovery is only the second Roman pagan temple to be found in Notts after a previous discovery in 1963 near the new East Midlands Parkway Station.

The site in Southwell also contains what is believed to be a large villa and up to four graves.

Ursilla Spence, senior archaeological officer for Notts County Council, who is leading the excavation, fears the discovery may be too damaged to provide a conclusive link between Christianity and Paganism.

But she said the find is one of the most exciting in her 25-year career.

Ms Spence said: “We certainly have got something substantial that is completely out of character for the East Midlands and probably most of the UK.

“But what it is, we don’t know. The archeology is so damaged.

“At the moment we have a number of stories but we are looking for the archeology that ties them all together.

“It is a bit like a jigsaw where you are missing pieces.

“I am not convinced that there is enough of it left because of the building developments that happened afterwards.”

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