Discoveries around the Fosse Way
FOLLOWING THE FOSSE WAY - This Is Lincolnshire
10:30 - 14 July 2003
The country's newest dual carriageway follows the same route as an historic Roman thoroughfare. The roadworks gave archaeologists a rare chance to dig deep into the history of the county. Brendan Montague follows the path they charted into the mists of time. The newly opened stretch of A46 between Lincoln and Newark follows a route that has remained important for at least 2,000 years - the Roman Fosse Way.
And the construction allowed archaeologists to unearth prehistoric artefacts that date all the way back to the Late Neolithic age - as far as 2400 BC.
Many of the rare finds will be preserved in Lincoln's new City and County Museum. The archaeological discoveries help map a route through history back to some of the earliest recorded settlements in Lincolnshire.
The historical trail began with the unearthing of pits and gullies containing pottery from the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Age, found at the Winthorpe roundabout, near Newark. This is the spot where the present A46 is thought to diverge from the original Fosse Way, although very little of the Roman road was discovered. The pits that were found are evidence of historic timber fences, working shelters and other structures.
Further along the road at Glebe Farm, on the route of the Brough bypass, archaeologists found more evidence of Early Bronze Age habitation. A cremation cemetery was discovered, which included cremation burials in urns set in a circle-shaped ditched enclosure. This was surrounded by a ditch which had been cut into the natural sands and gravel with a south-west facing entrance. Beaker pottery found at the site dates back to 2,000BC with other burial urns also dating from 1,700BC.
Cremation burial remains were also unearthed at Langford Hall at the northern end of the Brough bypass. These were revealed to have originated from the Middle Bronze Age, between 1,700 and 1,500BC.
And they are described by the project leader of the City of Lincoln Archaeological Unit, Russell Trimble, as "the most interesting" discovery.
"This is a very unusual find for this region," he added. "But we have got to study the pots - we have got specialists looking at them and then we will know how rare they are."
An Iron Age settlement with boundaries was also discovered at Brough, including many crop marks such as track ways, fields and roundhouses.
The name of the village derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for an old fortification - burgh - although to the Romans it was known as Crococalana. Excavations around Glebe Farm revealed evidence of an Anglo-Saxon settlement, dating from the sixth century.
"We found about 16 small pots with fragments of pottery with human remains from the early bronze age," Mr Trimble said. "These types of sites are rare. We know of one parallel site in the south of the country."
The excavations at Glebe Farm revealed evidence of houses, fields and enclosures from the Iron Age, dated around 100BC.
Digs carried out during the road-building project have thrown light on the complex history of occupation at Gallows Nooking Common.
The area at the top of the Trent Valley runs parallel to an ancient earthwork "band and ditch" which marks the local parish and county boundary. Mr Trimble said: "There had only been glimpses and we have now been able to complete the picture.
"The very interesting thing about the site is the main road crosses over the area, and it seems from the work that we carried out the settlement existed for a long time.
"We want to establish why the settlement came to an end - was it something to do with the Roman road? They may have been cleared out."
Archaeologists have been able to confirm that the A46 follows the route of the original Roman Fosse Way, built midway through the first century. At some points a limestone road surface with an underlying layer of broken Roman brick was found. But because the ancient and modern roads follow exactly the same path most of it lies undisturbed - perhaps ready for discovery 2,000 years from now.
Posted by Rhiannon
14th July 2003ce