Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Tuesday, 25 August 2009 09:48 UK

Dig begins at buried Roman town

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Archaeologists believe the town was built on top of an Iceni settlement

A new archaeological dig has begun at a Roman town in Norfolk to establish whether there was a much older settlement on the site.

Excavations at the buried town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund were first carried out in 1929, after the site was found by aerial photographs.

A geophysical survey was carried out two years ago, which showed possible prehistoric features beneath the town.

Archaeologists believe the town was built on top of an Iceni settlement.

Venta Icenorum was first discovered in July 1928 when the crew of an RAF aircraft took photographs in the area.

Caistor is one of the most important but least understood sites of Roman Britain
Professor Will Bowden

The exceptionally dry summer meant details of the Roman town were revealed as parched lines in the barley.

It is thought to have been established in the aftermath of Boudicca's rebellion of AD61 in which the Iceni tribe sacked Colchester, London and St Albans before being defeated by the Romans.

The new town was founded in the heart of Iceni territory, functioning as its regional capital.

The new excavations will target some of the pre-Roman features shown up by the geophysical survey of 2007.

Original Caistor dig
Excavations found that the new town was in the heart of Iceni territory

Dr Will Bowden of the University of Nottingham is leading the dig.

"Caistor is one of the most important but least understood sites of Roman Britain," he said.

"To have the opportunity to excavate here is the chance of a lifetime."

The excavations will be open to the public, free of charge, from 29 August until 19 September.

The site is owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and managed by South Norfolk Council.



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