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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 July, 2003, 14:01 GMT 15:01 UK
Stuffed dormice a Roman favourite
Roman bowl
The remnants of a Roman hare stew
Archaeologists in Northamptonshire are unearthing the recipe secrets of the Romans.

Excavations in the county have shown the dish of the day 2,000 years ago was freshly-grilled hare and stuffed dormice.

The excavations are at Whitehall Villa, Nether Heyford, just yards from the Grand Union Canal, are revealing the secrets of Northamptonshire's Roman Heritage, including their unusual diet.

Archaeologist Martin Weaver said a burned bowl found at the site contained the remnants of hare stew.

"They also ate dormice - stuffed - and oysters. They loved their oysters," he said.

The villa sits on land now owned and farmed by Nick Adams who is discovering he has more in common with his ancestors than he realised.

"I had no real interest in archaeology or Roman things before this came along but, because it's on my land, I get a real kick.

Students at the excavation
More than 60 students from across the world are taking part in the dig
"The Romans were actually living and working here as I am doing now. They raised sheep and farmed crops as I am doing today," he said.

More than 60 students from across the world are taking part in the dig and some of the finds are believed to date back to the Iron Age.

Stephen Young, of University College, Northampton, said the level, variety and richness of the finds was very revealing.

"It is really starting to highlight the interaction of the people who were living here and gives a real insight into what they were doing here and how long they were here."

The Whitehall Villa and all the finds can be viewed by the public this weekend.

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