Campaign to preserve Southwell Roman villa site

This is Nottingham

HISTORIANS and archaeologists are hoping to preserve a strip of land in Southwell believed to be part of a Roman complex.

A wall was uncovered on the land last year, dating back to 43AD.

The Southwell Community Archaeology Group wants the site protected from development to conduct more studies about its history and to enable more visitors to see it.

Dr Will Bowden, associate professor in Roman archaeology at the University of Nottingham, is trying to rally public support to protect the land.

He said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to find out some more about the history of Southwell,” he said.

Roman remains were discovered under parts of Southwell in the 1790s.

Baths which formed part of a villa were uncovered when a site in Church Street was cleared for the building of the original Southwell Minster School in 1959.

The wall on the land which Southwell Community Archaeology Group want to preserve was then uncovered when the Church Street site was cleared again for development last year.

Archeologists who unearthed the wall believe it to be the remains of a Roman temple, though Dr Bowden remains unsure if that is the case.

At a meeting with Southwell residents, Dr Bowden said: “The evidence we have is not sufficient enough to suggest this.

“But the wall certainly could be part of the villa. This villa could be one of the biggest away from the south of England.”

The wall is 20 metres long by 2.5 metres tall. It is made from large, smooth-faced sandstone blocks typically used for lavish Roman buildings.

John Lock, who is a member of the archaeology group, said finding the wall was a significant discovery.

He said: “We hope we can keep this site clear from any development.

“Southwell is a place steeped in history and it would be great if we could have the opportunity to find out more about it.”

Coun Bruce Laughton, whose county council ward includes Southwell, said: “We have to be robust with developers to make sure there isn’t a chance of this site being built on.

“What we want to see is an opportunity to have a full dig on this site. I’m sure it will reveal some very interesting things about Southwell’s long history