Ewell (G-B): Archaeologists unearth Roman past

Hardeep Matharu

Source http://www.epsomguardian.co.uk/news/9811398.Archaeologists_unearth_Ewell_s_Roman_past/


Amateur archaeologists are painstakingly unearthing Ewell’s Roman past before the site is turned into a graveyard.

Since the start of the month members of the Epsom and Ewell History and Archaeology, and Surrey Archaeological Societies have continued work to uncover evidence of Roman life in Church Field, opposite the ancient site of St Mary’s Church in Church Street, Ewell.

The church is likely to extend its cemetery into the field in the future and the excavation is being conducted to clear the land and rescue any historical items buried there.

David Brooks, of Bourne Hall Museum, said a key Roman road runs through the field, with settlements on either side, which is why it is likely that significant remains will be found.

He said: "Stanes Street runs down through the field, which was a main road running between London and Chichester and was built by the Roman army.

"Over a period of time, it became a main road and Ewell became the last stop before London.

"Ewell has springs and fresh water, which has religious connotations, so people would stop off here before arriving in London to make a gift to the gods.

"A settlement grew up either side of the road and it became one of the largest Roman settlements in Surrey, with four to five hundred people living there at any one time."

Mr Brooks said the dig has already unearthed Roman artefacts.

He added: "Quite a lot of evidence of Roman occupancy has turned up already, including building material; Samian pottery, which was only made in certain parts of France and has a high status; roof tiles; evidence of central heating systems and other structures.

"This bodes well for when the groups dig deeper. But it’s early days.

"I hope the dig will throw up some buildings and structures and tell us more about life in Roman Ewell.

"Maybe we will find the remains of an official stopping site for visitors in Ewell, built by the Roman government, which has been conjectured to exist for years."

An open day for the dig will be held at the Ewell Village fair on July 14, prior to the end of this years excavations on July 20.