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Venta Icenorum saved for the nation

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Watcher of the Skies
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« on: July 13, 2011, 01:37:16 am »

Venta Icenorum saved for the nation



The ancient capital of the Iceni in Norfolk, southeast England, has been saved from continuing damage by a substantial  grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.  The Norfolk Archaeological Trust received 374,000 to purchase part of Venta Icenorum, which lies beneath fields at Caistor St. Edmund.

The Roman town, is one of only three regional centres in Britain that did not develop into a modern town.

There was a  high risk of irrevocable damage to the site as a result of both intensive agricultural ploughing and unauthorised metal detecting
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Watcher of the Skies
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« Reply #1 on: July 13, 2011, 01:39:02 am »



The southern town defences at Venta Icenorum. Image: The Armatura Press, Flickr

Peter Wade-Martins, director of Norfolk Archaeological Trust, announced: “I am absolutely delighted the trust has managed to acquire this vitally important part of the Roman town which is a significant addition to the 120 acres already under our conservation management.”

Little remains above the ground, but below the topsoil are extensive remains of the Roman town where the Iceni lived in a planned grid pattern settlement.

Only the sites of Wroxeter in Shropshire and Silchester in Hampshire match the preservation found at Venta Icenorum, however, this site is even more interesting, as it seems to have evolved into a Saxon market town, before being abandoned.

A large part of the site, 22 hectares, which until earlier this year didn’t even have the protection of scheduled ancient monument listing, has been ploughed regularly, and every time the land was ploughed, the footprints and holes of unauthorised metal detector users were to be seen in the fields.

Venta Icenorum straddled both sides of the River Tas and was the Roman capital of what is now Norfolk and Suffolk. The Norfolk Archaeological Trust already owned part of the town to the east of the river, but the newly purchased land to the west will now be reconnected to the town and operate as an entire archaeological site freely accessible to the public.
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« Reply #2 on: July 13, 2011, 01:39:34 am »



2010 excavations at Caistor by Nottingham University.
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« Reply #3 on: July 13, 2011, 01:40:50 am »

Protection of the site from further agricultural damage is a priority, as is ensuring artefacts are not removed illegally.  Further interpretation of the site is planned and excavations are ongoing to carefully recover the evidence and stories from Venta Icenorum.  A research excavation project led by Dr Will Bowden of Nottingham University will resume at the site in August.

The site was the subject of a dramatic discovery from aerial photographs taken by RAF aircraft which showed the pattern left in parched barley fields during the exceptionally dry summer of 1928 – one of the early uses of aerial photography in archaeology.



Prior to the AD43 invasion of Iron Age Britain by the Roman legions, Norfolk was the territory of the Iceni people.  Later, Boadicea, the leader of the tribe, led an unsuccessful, but devastating  revolt against Roman occupation around AD 60, after which the Romans occupied and inhabited the area for more than 300 years.

The local capital became Venta Icenorum, a large, bustling market town that is mentioned in Roman sources. The Latin name of Venta Icenorum is translated as ‘market place of the Iceni’.

Archaeologists will now have a chance to examine whether Venta Icenorum was built on the site of an Iceni stronghold as retribution for Boadicea’s rebellion, or to favour a faction of the Iceni who had not taken part in the revolt.

The money for the purchase came from the National Heritage Memorial Fund grant, English Heritage, £40,000, South Norfolk Council, £20,000, and the remainder coming from Norfolk Archaeological Trust themselves.
More information

    * The Norfolk Archaeological Trust (Caistor page)
    * Venta Icenorum (Roman Britain.org)
    * The Forum and Baths at Caistor by Norwich by S.S. Frere in Britannia ii (1971) pp.1-26;
    * New excavations at Caistor Roman Town (Research Project)
    * Norfolk Heritage Explorer
    * A tour around Caistor

http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/07/2011/venta-icenorum-saved-for-the-nation
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