THE REMAINS of a Roman building have been discovered during the building of a new school campus in Warwick.
Wall foundations for a large aisled structure – the size of a medieval church – were uncovered by Warwickshire County Council’s team of archaeologists on the Banbury Road.
They have been digging on the site since October at the invitation of Warwick Independent Schools Foundation ahead of King’s High School’s relocation there from the town centre.
Archaeology Warwickshire’s Principal Archaeologist Stuart Palmer, said: “The building probably forms a component of a large villa estate, which must have spread along the banks of the Avon and been connected to the Roman road system. Early indications suggest it developed in the 2nd century AD and probably went out of use in the 4th century. This new discovery will put Roman Warwick firmly on the map.”
Constructed of local sandstone, over 28 metres long by 14.5 metres wide, the villa would have been the largest building ever seen in the region. Corn drying ovens, both inside and outside the structure attest to an agricultural function, although internal wall divisions at the opposite end of the building probably indicate a suite of domestic rooms.
Simon Jones, secretary for Warwick Independent Schools Foundation, said: “This is an exciting find and an invaluable experience for the schools, with pupils and staff having had opportunities to see the excavations at first hand.
“The find will become part of the history of the new school building and of the foundation as a whole and will, we hope, inspire budding archaeologists for generations to come.”
The archaeological work was a requirement of planning permission for the first phase of the project, which is costing
£18.2million, and which is set to be completed in September next year.
Caroline Rann, who has been leading the winter long excavation, said: ‘Very rarely do archaeologists discover a new villa, and this fantastic building could never have been predicted.
“Thanks to the Warwick Independent Schools Foundation and their construction team, Speller Metcalfe, who have gone out of their way to assist us, we can now start to build a better picture of Roman Warwick.’
The remains of the building will be preserved under the new campus and plans are being developed to bring the results of the work to a wider audience in the forms of displays and educational materials, as well as a formal archaeological report.
Coun Jeff Clarke, Warwickshire County Council’s environment spokesman, said: “The Archaeology Warwickshire team are experts in so many aspects of archaeological history and are always willing and able to use that expertise to assist on a wide variety of fascinating projects.
“This latest find in Warwick certainly adds to the rich tapestry of Warwickshire’s History which all contributes to the county being a fantastic place to live and visit.”