College pulls plug on archaeology study

11:00 04 March 2011

South Terrace, WsM. Excavations at the back of Weston College. Finding of Roman coines and skeleton.; 29-09-09

South Terrace, WsM. Excavations at the back of Weston College. Finding of Roman coines and skeleton.; 29-09-09

Archant

ARCHAEOLOGISTS have been left with just a ‘tantalising glimpse’ of a Roman settlement in Weston after a study into their find was called off.

Weston College has said it will not pay for a full study of a skeleton, coins and stone foundations uncovered during a six-week dig at its Knightstone Campus.

The decision comes despite archaeologists proclaiming the dig as the first clear evidence of a Roman settlement in the town.

This week, the college, which paid for the initial excavation under a planning agreement to refurbish its Hans Price building, said ‘the investigation was complete’.

Principal Dr Paul Phillips said: “The resultant report (of the dig) was crucial to the way the college would move ahead with development.

“In part, it concluded ‘the quality and importance of the archaeology identified on the site, whilst having considerable local and potentially some regional significance, is not judged to be of national importance and therefore is not considered to justify preservation at the expense of future development’.

“On the basis of this information, the college concluded that the investigation was complete.”

The excavation, carried out in South Terrace in 2009, unearthed walls and clay floors as well as a preserved skeleton in a crouched burial position outside the foundations.

Tests later showed the skeleton belonged to a slender man aged between 35 and 45. It was thought he was probably a slave due to the skeleton’s diseased condition.

Coins, metalwork and animal bone were also found, along with Romano-British-style pottery, including pots made in Oxford and tableware thought to be imported from France.

Avon Archaeological Unit (AAU) director Andrew Young this week responded to the college’s decision not to fund a study into the items.

He said: “The decision not to conduct a study into the items represents a missed opportunity. I’m disappointed.

“We could have learnt so much more from the excavation and found out the extent of the settlement and how it served the local area, but instead we are left with just a tantalising glimpse.”

The unit has passed its research on to the college and North Somerset Council, while the items, including the skeleton, will probably be given to the town’s museum.

Meanwhile, work can now commence on the refurbishment of the Hans Price building, which will be used to teach performing arts to students.

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