More than 1,000 people whose imagination was sparked by the discovery of a rare Roman glass jug visited Doncaster’s latest town centre archaeological dig.
Seven archaeologists from ArcHeritage were on hand to conduct tours and to talk about the artefacts unearthed on the site of the new civil and cultural quarter.
Visitor Louella Chesterman of Bennetthorpe, said: “I found the event and tour extremely interesting and was impressed to hear that this site is now the largest Roman burial site in South Yorkshire. Listening to the archaeologists about how a dig takes place was fascinating.”
Ms Chesterman plans to visit Doncaster Museum in Chequer Road where the finds will go on display.
Jessica Worth, age 11, from Balby, said: “It was really interesting. The best bit for me was seeing the Roman glass bottle which was found here. I’m amazed it has survived all these years. I’ll definitely go and see it at the museum when it goes on display”.
As well as the rare Roman glass jug dating back to about AD150, several cremation urns and five oil lamps, which accompanied the burials, were discovered during the dig.
Four of the oil lamps discovered in a large cremation pit are in near perfect condition and carry the makers’ names ‘Fortis’ and ‘Strobili’, which indicates they were probably created in Modena in Northern Italy.
David Aspden, who is leading the ArcHeritage excavation, said the team has been delighted to find artefacts in such good condition: “When you are excavating a Roman cemetery you expect to uncover some significant finds, but to find two intact cremation urns, which can now be preserved and displayed, has been tremendous.”
Andy Lines of South Yorkshire Archaeology Service added: “This site is special and is going to make an important contribution to our understanding of Roman life and death in Doncaster 1,850 years ago.”
First World War practice trenches were also found on what was the Waterdale Central Car Park.
ArcHeritage worked with archaeological consultants Scott Wilson under the supervision of Doncaster Council’s development partner Muse Developments and advisors, South Yorkshire Archaeology Service.
To continue the celebration of Doncaster’s Roman history, Roman soldiers will be setting up camp in the grounds of the Minster on Saturday and Sunday, September 3 and 4. The soldiers will march through town and displays will be available. This Roman camp is part of the St Leger Festival Week which runs between 2-11 September.
Work on the next stage of Doncaster’s £300m CCQ scheme is due to start shortly.