Page last updated at 15:00 GMT, Sunday, 18 April 2010 16:00 UK

Remains in Southwell 'could be Roman temple'

Excavated wall at Southwell
The scale of the walls uncovered indicate a high-status building

Remains unearthed in Nottinghamshire could be an unknown Roman temple, archaeologists have claimed.

Excavations on the Minster C of E School site in Southwell between September 2008 and May 2009 revealed walls, ditches and ornate stones.

The team analysing the finds said the shape and quality of the remains suggest it could have been an important place of worship.

This could mean Southwell enjoyed a high status Roman Britain, they added.

A wall of large block masonry that was probably plastered and possibly painted, with a ditch that may have contained water, was possibly the boundary of a large temple.

Roman pilgrims

The remains of timber scaffolding for the wall were also uncovered. Radiocarbon dating of this dated it to the first century.

Ursilla Spence from Nottinghamshire County Council, the archaeologist who supervised the work, said a lack of domestic remains, like pots and tools, also indicated a ceremonial use.

"This is a fascinating site," she said. "But, so far, it has raised more questions than it has answered.

"I hope that future excavation work, when the site is developed, will throw more light on exactly what was going on here 2,000 years ago.

"But, whatever we might find in future, I believe we have already shown that Roman Southwell was a much more significant place than anyone previously thought."

She added that if the site was a temple, a nearby 'villa' with mosaics, excavated in 1959, could actually have been a hotel for pilgrims.

The site is expected to be developed for housing and further excavation would take place during the building work.



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