Street House Roman Villa

WhereGreat Broughton Sports ClubType of EventIllustrated Talk
When15th October at 7.30pm TutorDr Steve  Sherlock

Since 2004 Dr Steve Sherlock has been investigating the area around Street House, near Loftus. Neolithic burial sites, flints and pottery had been found in 1980 and further excavations in 2004 resulted in the discovery of three Iron Age roundhouses and other Iron Age features. Several small pits were also uncovered which looked like graves and in 2007 the cemetery was fully excavated with the discovery of 109 Anglo-Saxon graves.  In the graves were beads, hair pins, gold pendants and most importantly a shield shaped gold pendant inlaid with garnets. There were also the remains of a wooden bed with iron fastenings, which indicated the burial of a person of very high status, probably of royal descent. These discoveries led to the Street House Exhibition at Kirkleatham Museum.

Thus Steve had evidence of habitation during Neolithic, Iron Age and Anglo Saxon periods, and felt that with this continuum there must be some Roman activity. In 2008 he found evidence of a Roman building, plus a quern stone, some jet and bits of pottery. Therefore in 2012 an area was stripped in the next field, and a villa or working farm was outlined, and further excavations in 2013 showed four more buildings. One was very large –about 24 by 10 metres with a U-shaped building adjoining, whilst another was smaller with a fire in the centre, and a paved area, maybe for threshing corn. A sunken area or building was excavated about 4 by 4 metres with a stone retaining wall and  a stone pavement was also uncovered outside one of the rooms, along with a bread oven. Jet and glass beads were found along with large pieces of pottery and ‘enigmatic’ stones – carved phallic symbols often found in Roman villas.

Thus there were several buildings over a large area which Steve felt could have been built at various times over the 3rd and 4th centuries leading from late Roman into early Anglo-Saxon. He also postulated that the buildings over time were moving slowly down the hill towards Cleveland Street.

Steve’s enthusiasm for his work over this long period of time was clearly visible as was his appreciation of all the volunteers who helped him on the site. His work continues and all the finds from this year are being analysed and recorded- the results being available hopefully next year.

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