ARCHAEOLOGISTS believe they have uncovered the remains of a Roman village at an excavation site in Collingham, near Newark.
Researchers from Trent and Peak Archaeology unearthed a range of artefacts during a year-long excavation at Tarmac's Langford Quarry in Newark Road.
Discoveries included eight stone-lined wells – an unprecedented number for the region – and 26 human burials, as well as vast amounts of pottery dating from the first century to the fourth century AD.
Archaeologist Lee Elliott, of Trent and Peak Archaeology – a commercial archeological unit based at the University of Nottingham – led the research.
He described the scale of the findings as one of the "largest and most significant" collections of Roman artefacts recovered in the region.
He said: "We believe this site resembled a Romano-British village, very few of which have been identified along the Trent Valley – single farmsteads being the norm.
"The village appears to have been sub-divided into areas for living, working and burial.
"The exceptional range of artefacts for a rural community suggests prosperity, possibly built on large-scale animal husbandry and associated products servicing the nearby Romano-British towns at Brough and Lincoln."
Archaeologists also discovered bones of animals, including cows, sheep, pigs, horses, dogs and deer, which do not normally survive on acidic sandy sites.
Mr Elliott said the site provided "fresh insights into the everyday rural life during this period".
He added that archaeologists were particularly impressed with the discovery of the stone-lined wells, each of which are about two to three metres deep, because no other site in the region had ever uncovered so many.
All had been built on a timber raft base and animal bone and pottery were found in the shafts after they were emptied of the silt which had filled them.
"The wells appear to be for communal use," Mr Elliott said.
"They may have been built in response to contamination of the nearby river which was used for watering animals and rubbish disposal.
"The number of wells reflects the size and wealth of the community they served.
"The wells have provided exceptional finds including complete Romano-British pots lost 1,800 years ago and well-preserved timbers with toolmarks."
Other findings include several Romano British brooches, 200 coins, iron knives, pins, buckles, rings and lead weights.
The quarry's owners, Tarmac, had agreed with Notts County Council to strip all the remaining land that needed to be worked in one go, so that archaeologists had the maximum opportunity to look at it.
Neil Beards, Tarmac's estates manager, said: "We're thrilled this approach has rewarded us with such significant finds, that may not have been discovered if we weren't quarrying here.
"We really have been taken aback at what has been uncovered on the site."
For more information visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/tpa