The objections poured in thick and fast. Many objected to the poor quality of the planning application, which seems to be claiming that two huge buildings, associated traffic and commercial activities, and an enormous chimney, would have 'no adverse impact' on this ecologically beautiful, archaeologically-rich locale. Then there was the lack of an obvious map (at least whenever I looked), and the somewhat desultory list of consultees. It was, to my eyes, as an archaeologist and a former Planning Committee member, all pretty woeful. And, sadly, the archaeological desk-top survey included with the application was incomplete, based on inadequate data, and quite eyebrow-raising in its brevity.Read More
It's been a while since anyone took much notice of Julius Caesar's writings on ancient Britain as any kind of credible social commentary. There's not only the problem that he was writing for a particular audience and in a particular style - there's also the issue that so little of what he says about Britain matches the archaeological evidence.
But that's not to say that his words aren't worth looking at. His statements about (at least some) British marriages tantalise us with their allusions not just to polygamous unions but to a rare form of this known as 'polyandry' - the marriage of a woman to more than one man - as well as to how the children of these marriages were made legitimate.Read More
What was a ‘villa’ to the Roman eye and to the Roman understanding? What do modern archaeologists need to see on the ground in order to classify a site as a ‘villa’? In what ways - if at all - are they a meaningful category of evidence, and how might they give us information about the Roman economy and the colonisation of landscapes by idealised edifices? On some sites in early Roman Britain, within just a couple of decades of the occupation and in the vicinity of new Roman towns, the traditional late Iron Age settlement type of timber roundhouses were replaced by a Roman building type of rectangular houses with stone foundations and, seemingly, increased room divisions. What does this all mean - what class of habitus are we dealing with here?Read More
In the 1930s, three intriguing burials were found by Adrian Oswald and his workforce in the upper archaeological levels at Norton Disney Roman villa. Some might call these inhumations strange, lying as they did not in a burial ground but on top of or aligned with dismantled walls of once-imposing buildings from the Roman era. Why are they there? How rare are such burials? What can they tell us about life and death and the end of Roman villas in Britain - and indeed the end of Roman Britain itself?Read More
I’m deliberately keeping this piece as short as possible – a lot of people involved already have too many stacks of papers on their desks and in their inboxes. This is a ‘capsule argument’ about how and why this site at Norton Disney matters, and why it deserves protection. It’s one of many villas known, but it’s one of the most intriguing. It was partly excavated a couple of years prior to World War II, so is ‘known about’; but those excavations by Adrian Oswald have themselves thrown up a whole range of puzzles. These include the archaeological narratives currently emerging of connections that stretch from prehistoric tribal Ireland through to this corner of Lincolnshire, and the story of the rise of private property and the collapse of Roman Britain - as well as suspicions of an excavator 'dining out' on fabricated stories of Saxon raiders and collisions of races and nations in the late 1930s.Read More