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New excavation reveals scale of ancient temple

PUBLISHED: 16:17 24 August 2019 | UPDATED: 16:32 24 August 2019

Proffesor Will Bowden, leader of the recent Roman excavations of a temple in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Proffesor Will Bowden, leader of the recent Roman excavations of a temple in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Archant

The people behind an exciting project to unearth an ancient temple have lifted the lid on their work by inviting members of the public to look around the excavation site.

Members of the Caistor Roman Project working on the temple site in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella WilkinsonMembers of the Caistor Roman Project working on the temple site in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

Fresh excavations of the Roman town Venta Icenorum in Caistor St Edmund were launched at the start of August, with historians and volunteers working to discover more about a temple on the site.

The project is being carried out by community group The Caistor Roman Project, which will be building on work by a local schoolteacher, Susannah Mottram, in 1957, in an attempt to establish the size and significance of the temple.

Some of the previous finds suggest that activity at the temple may stretch back into the pre-Roman period and thus be earlier than the town itself.

One week into the investigation, project leader Professor Will Bowden, said the results were fantastic and changing the way the world viewed the town.

A knitted depiction of the members of the Caistor Roman Project working on the temple site in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella WilkinsonA knitted depiction of the members of the Caistor Roman Project working on the temple site in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

He said: "People have always thought of it as being a small, rather impoverished and unimportant town which was laid out by the Romans in the aftermath of the Boudican revolt. But what we've shown is that a lot of what was going on at the town was probably the result of local initiative and representing local aspirations."

The historian said the excavation was revealing the extent to which the town extended beyond its boundaries, and that small scale excavations in gardens around the town demonstrated how far the settlement expanded.

This particular excavation follows on from a successful operation in 2018, which uncovered a high status Roman dwelling with a tessellated floor and painted wall plaster, as well as artefacts spanning 10 historic periods.

Professor Bowden said: "This year's excavation follows on from our very successful operation last year, and further confirms the development of Caistor Roman Project as an independent community archaeology group."

Members of the Caistor Roman Project working on the temple site in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella WilkinsonMembers of the Caistor Roman Project working on the temple site in Caistor St Edmunds. Picture: Ella Wilkinson

The work will continue until Sunday, September 1, and although on private land, will be open to the public on the last day of the excavation.

Parking will be available at the Boudicca Hotel in Stoke Road and visitors are asked to take every care in walking along Caistor Lane to the site, which is to the left beyond Old Church Close. Refreshments will be available at the hotel.



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