2,000-year-old Roman settlement unearthed at South Devon road site

Archaeologists carrying out investigations in advance of the construction of the South Devon Link Road have uncovered the remains of a 2,000 year old Roman settlement and a stone-constructed 800 year old medieval building.

The Roman settlement appears to have comprised a large rectangular ditched enclosure, which appears to have been modified three times, probably as a result of ever-increasing wealth and the construction of more elaborate buildings inside the enclosure.

While no evidence for a building survives due to subsequent quarrying, some of the artefacts recovered give an indication of its quality. The archaeologists have found large quantities of pottery, some of which has come from as far afield as southern France and Spain, while that produced in Britain has come from Oxfordshire, Dorset, Hampshire and more locally South Devon.

Pieces of stone and ceramic tile recovered hint at a highly Romanised building, with one of the more interesting discoveries being a piece of slate engraved on both sides with geometric decoration and one by an artist with great skill.

The archaeological team, led by Simon Hughes of Bradninch-based AC archaeology are carrying out the work on behalf of Devon County Council and Torbay Council.

Simon said: "It is really exciting to work on this project, as the quality of the archaeological remains, in particular the finds, are unusual for rural Devon."

Steve Reed from the Devon County Council Historic Environment Team, who is monitoring these works, said: "We have known about the Roman site since the early 1990s and are pleased with the amount of new evidence being recovered.

"The discovery of a previously unknown medieval settlement at Edginswell Lane is a welcome addition to our knowledge of medieval lowland Devon."

Torbay Mayor Gordon Oliver said: "Once the archaeologists have finished their work on site, I’m sure many people will be looking forward to attending the talks and seeing the artefacts so they can learn more about these fascinating discoveries."

The medieval building remains are located closer to the village and date from around the 13th century. These comprise well-constructed stone walls, as well as a trackway leading to the building from the main road. It is possible the building was perhaps abandoned at a time when the Black Death arrived in Britain.

The archaeologists are due to finish work in the new year and the work will result in detailed reports, talks to local communities and artefacts going to the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter.

The 5.5km dual carriageway, which will provide a bypass for Kingskerswell, was given full approval by the Government in May. Work began in October and is due to be completed by December 2015.

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