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2,000 years of History: Roman Road unearthed in Worcestershire

Workmen in Worcestershire have uncovered a suspect Roman Road in a field in Evesham. Experts have said that discovery is ‘internationally important’.

It is suspected that the road could the only one of its kind in Britain and the finest Roman

example of its type the country has ever seen.

The road was discovered by chance during routine waterworks by the River Severn a couple of weeks ago and is over ten metres in length and 2.9 metres in width.

b2ap3 large 20221020 225137Roman ford
Source: Wychavon District Council / SWNS

Roman giveaways

Upon discovery of the road, archaeologists were called in to examine and inspect it to determine its origins. It quickly became apparent how significant the discovery was and as a result.

The exact location has now been concealed.

One of the biggest reasons why archaeologists believe it to be Roman relates to how the road has been constructed. A traditional Roman technique for road construction was to build them like walls with large stones laid in bands. The unearthed road has been built using this technique and resembles similar ones in Rome and Pompeii.

When you combine the construction technique with the fact that a Roman-era villa complex was uncovered in the same vicinity just four years ago, it’s difficult to conclude that this road is anything other than Roman.

If confirmed, the road will be unique in the fact that it will be the only road of its type in the whole of the United Kingdom.

Archaeological response

Excavations have been taking place to try and find out as much as they can about the site. It is believed to be a ford – a shallow place in a river where people, animals and vehicles would cross – and ruts have been discovered in the stones which indicate it was heavily used by carts.

Aidan Smyth, Archaeology Officer from Wychavon District Council, has been blown away by the discovery. He said:

“At the moment everything is ticking the boxes for it to be Roman but it still feels too good to be true so we are keeping an open mind.

If it turns out to be medieval then it could still be considered to be nationally significant as nothing similar has been found in Britain to date. If it is a first-century Roman feature it is the only one of its kind to be found in Britain to date.

If it was to be a Roman feature, with its only comparisons in Rome and Pompeii, you could argue it’s of world importance, not just of national importance.

The stonework is absolutely perfect. It just ticks every box for being Roman.”

Where do they go from here?

Wychavon District Council are continuing to carry out excavations while they’ve also notified Historic England who will also carry out their own analysis and examinations.

Typically, excavators and analysts will be looking for dateable finds such as pottery or coins. Items like these are what archaeologists use to determine the period of time in which their discoveries originate. At the time of writing, no such items have been unearthed within the road.

With no dateable items anywhere to be found, a section is to be dug up from the road and sent off for optically stimulated luminescence testing. This type of testing is able to measure the last time the sediment was exposed to sunlight, meaning testers will be able to gain an understanding of roughly how old the road is.

As this process takes several months to complete, the site is expected to be reburied for the time being to protect it against deterioration. Historic England is being kept informed every step of the way in the hope that it will eventually be able to be listed as an ancient monument.

Final thought

Roman discoveries like this are always exciting, particularly in Worcestershire. This part of England is commonplace for archaeological finds as the Roman army often passed through Worcestershire (known as Vertis in Roman times) to reach the River Severn on their way to Wales. We’re excited to hear more news about this road in due course.

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