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Roman Villa remains unearthed at Taylor Wimpey's Emerson's Green site

27th December 2013 Print
A stone-built Roman well found at Emerson’s Green

The remains of a major Roman villa site have been discovered by archaeologists working at a new Taylor Wimpey development site near Bristol.

The experts from Wardell Armstrong Archaeology were brought in by the leading housebuilder to carry out routine excavation work before construction begins on site at the Emerson’s Green development on the outskirts of the city.

The team was astounded to unearth a large high-status Roman villa site and industrial buildings which covered a total area of four hectares.

Finds included a large quantity of jewellery, including bronze brooches, babies’ bracelets, rings and necklaces, as well as high-status pottery. The dig also revealed the remains of cremations and burials at the site and soil samples suggest there used to be metal working and textile dying carried out in the industrial buildings.

Helen Martin-Bacon, Regional Director for Wardell Armstrong Archaeology and the lead archaeologist on the project, says: “This was a very unexpected find. There was nothing to indicate the site held such significant remains, even though previous evaluation works had been carried out, and it was a complete surprise to everyone concerned.

“I don’t think there are any comparable examples of such a site in that area so this is probably a first.”

Helen believes the site dates back as far as Neolithic times and was occupied throughout the Iron Age and into the Roman period.

She says: “The site was not as well-preserved as you would expect but it is certainly very significant.

“Making a discovery like this is double-edged because finding some wonderful archaeology is very gratifying, but from the client’s perspective it can be a concern as it can be a costly business and it can delay the construction programme.

“Fortunately in this case, it didn’t cause any delays and I can say Taylor Wimpey has observed the very best practice in every respect. It has funded this major excavation which will contribute significantly to our knowledge of the history of the region and these finds will now go into local museums for people to see.”

Helen and her team spent a year on site carrying out the excavation work and will now be studying and dating the finds, before producing a full report on their findings.

She added: “Archaeology is not always an exact science, it is a gradual piecing together of the puzzle. Our motto is always ‘expect the unexpected’ because you never know what’s going to be under the ground.”

Construction work will begin on site at Emerson’s Green in 2014, once the detailed planning has been granted.

Information on Taylor Wimpey developments across the region is available by visiting

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A stone-built Roman well found at Emerson’s Green