The remains of a high-status Roman villa have been unearthed at a building site in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and could represent the first example of this design ever discovered.
Archaeologists from MAP Archaeological Practice working at a new housing development in the town of Eastfield, on behalf of the developer Keepmoat Homes following advice from Historic England, uncovered the remains of a large complex of Roman buildings. The structure comprises a circular central room with numerous chambers leading off it, as well as the remains of a bath house.
Archaeological experts have interpreted the structure as the remains of a high-status luxury Roman villa or religious sanctuary, or possibly a combination of both.
This is the first Roman villa of this style to be discovered in Britain, and possibly in the entire former Roman Empire.
‘This is a remarkable discovery which adds to the story of Roman settlement in North Yorkshire,’ said Karl Battersby, Corporate Director of Business and Environmental Services at North Yorkshire County Council. ‘Work by North Yorkshire archaeologists has already established that the buildings were designed by the highest quality architects in Northern Europe and constructed by the finest craftsmen. There will be further work on the finds and environmental samples to try to establish exactly what this enigmatic site was and why it was created so far from other Roman centres.’
In order to conserve the remains, Keepmoat Homes has altered the designs of the development. Rather than construct houses on top of the villa, it will be conserved beneath a public open space.
Further excavation work, as well as the analysis and publication of the finds, will be financially aided by Historic England. As the site is of national importance, Historic England has also recommended it be designated as a Scheduled Monument.