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TVAS News: Neolithic and Roman occupation at Arlington Way, Thetford

Detailed archaeological excavation in advance of development of the site for housing has just been completed.

These works uncovered the nucleus of a Roman settlement on the banks of the river Thet, dating from the 3rd/4th century AD, which included the remains of at least four timber structures together with a more substantial structure floored with crushed chalk. When this building went out of use, a layer of dark earth accumulated over the top, packed with finds left behind when the site was abandoned.

Close by was an extensive midden deposited in a natural hollow, which contained substantial quantities of occupation debris including fine and coarse ware pottery, animal bone, quern stones, coins, lead weights, copper alloy objects, iron agricultural and domestic implements and worked bone implements.

Small enclosures and land divisions were laid out around the settlement, possibly for livestock control, and other evidence for agriculture came in the form of plough marks below one of the Roman buildings. Previous work immediately adjacent to the site had suggested an early Roman phase of occupation of 1st/2nd century and some of these features may relate to this phase of Roman settlement.

An exciting discovery was that of a worked flint scatter in the northern part of the site on the edge of an ancient channel of the Thet, this being buried by drift and colluvial deposits. This assemblage appears to have Neolithic traits and represents early use of this riparian area.

Click on the image thumbnails below for larger versions:

View of chalk floor in late Roman timber post-built structure. View showing the excavation of the midden.

View showing the excavation of timber structure 102 during excavation in the foreground with the excavated midden behind. View of the excavation of structure 101 and area of dark earth.

Quern stone depostit uncovered in structure 102. Fragment of ceramic head found in pit 422, near the midden.

Complete jug discovered in the area of dark earth. Obverse sides of three Roman coins.

Reverse sides of three Roman coins. Obverse sides of two Roman coins.

Reverse sides of two Roman coins. Worked bone pin discovered in the midden.