Shifted sands reveal Roman settlement in the Channel Islands

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A “substantial” Roman village has been found preserved beneath sand in the Channel Islands. Excavations on Longis Common in Alderney revealed walls, a stone courtyard, pottery and coins.

Shifted sands reveal Roman settlement in the Channel Islands
Archaeologists hoped to find an Iron Age cemetery at the site, but were surprised to find
 evidence of a whole village [Credit: Philip De Jersey via BBC]

The site is thought to date back to the 2nd Century BC, which is “considerably earlier” than previous discoveries.

Experts say the sand could have buried the island’s first main settlement after its occupants moved to where the modern town is now.

Archaeologist Dr Philip De Jersey said the new village is connected to Iron Age burial sites in the area which are “much richer” than other burials in the Channel Islands.

Shifted sands reveal Roman settlement in the Channel Islands
A bronze sestertius depicting the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius of the 2nd Century was found
[Credit: Philip De Jersey via BBC]

“It suggests that at least some of the population had some wealth and social status – these were not all impoverished peasants living on the very edge of the Roman Empire,” he said.

Dr De Jersey said the “enormous” site may spread across 15,000 sq m (3.7 acres), making it the largest settlement found in the Channel Islands and nearby areas of France.

Shifted sands reveal Roman settlement in the Channel Islands
The dig site will be filled in to preserve the Roman buildings while archaeologists analyse the 2018 finds
[Credit: Philip De Jersey via BBC]

In 2011, a building near the new settlement – known locally as the Nunnery – was found to be of Roman origin from the 4th Century AD. It is now thought to be one of the best preserved small Roman forts in Britain.

Archaeologists say the new settlement may have been connected to the fort at some point in its history.

Dr Jason Monaghan, a local historian, said one of the unique things about the site was the way it was preserved.

Shifted sands reveal Roman settlement in the Channel Islands
Alderney is thought to have been part of the Roman Empire for 400 years
[Credit: Jason Monaghan via BBC]

“(At) most Roman towns, when they fell into ruins, the locals nicked all the stones to build their farms and cathedrals and things,” he said.

“What has happened at Longis is the buildings have gone out of use, the sand has blown in and buried them under three, four feet of sand……..everyone would have forgotten about them.”

Source: BBC News Website [August 01, 2018]

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