Moor dig finds Roman iron factory
A huge Roman iron factory has been unearthed at a remote spot on the southern edge of Exmoor.
Scientists believe the site near Brayford would have supplied markets right across the Roman Empire.
Archaeologists have found furnaces and equipment buried which would have been used to smelt hundreds of tonnes of iron nearly 2,000 years ago.
Preparations are being made to carry out further excavations.
Was it being operated by the Roman imperial army or being run by a local entrepreneur?
Dr Gill Juleff
A team of 20 students and staff from the University of Exeter's archaeology department, plus local volunteers, have been carrying out the dig.
The team has dug a trench over 10 feet (3 metres) deep across a platform and through a heap of discarded iron slag.
The trench has revealed the scale of iron production on the site.
Pottery fragments found within the trench have also indicated that much of the activity at the site took place during the second and third centuries AD.
Excavation director Dr Gill Juleff said: "One of the questions the team will be addressing is if the Roman army were overseeing and directing iron production.
"Was it being operated by the Roman imperial army or being run by a local entrepreneur, supplying iron to markets throughout the Roman Empire?
"Certainly the amount of metal produced here was far greater than would have been needed locally."
The four-year project is being funded by English Heritage and run by the Exmoor National Park Authority, the University of Exeter and the National Trust.
Posted by phil
25th September 2002ce
Edited 25th June 2009ce