Roman villa building site found at Corby housing estate

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A large tile kiln under excavation.Image source, Oxford Archaeology
Image caption,
Several tile kilns were among the items excavated at the Priors Hall Park development in Corby

A Roman industrial site used to build villas more than 1,600 years ago has been found at a new housing estate.

Large kilns and evidence of specialist trades such as carpenters and mortar producers were excavated at Priors Hall Park in Corby, Northamptonshire.

Archaeologists said the "unexpected" find offered an insight into workers' lives in the final years of Roman rule.

Items found will go on show at the county's Roman heritage centre in Irchester, due to open in 2021.

Image source, Oxford Archaeology
Image caption,
The industrial site was used to build Roman villas in the 4th Century

The six-month excavation took place ahead of the next phase of house-building at Priors Hall Park, a development of more than 5,000 new homes on the outskirts of Corby.

Kilns of various sizes were unearthed at the site, which dates to between the late 3rd to the middle of the 4th Century AD, alongside large-scale stone and clay quarries and structures believed to have been used to store equipment.

Other items found by Oxford Archaeology East included coins, animal bone, pottery, jewellery and tools.

The company said they would be sent for specialist analysis and offered "a rare insight into the lives of the estate workers".

Image source, Oxford Archaeology
Image caption,
Items found during the six-month excavation offered an insight into Roman workers' lives, archaeologists said

More than 2,000 Roman villas have been discovered in Britain, including more than 40 in Northamptonshire.

Northamptonshire County Council's archaeological advisor Lesley-Ann Mather said "the discovery of a Late Romano-British industrial complex was entirely unexpected".

Nigel Wakefield, from developers Urban&Civic, said: "With two villas previously excavated here in the 1950s, we always knew that we had a rich Roman history on this site.

"What we didn't realise is quite how fascinating these new discoveries are, not only in terms of the buildings that were previously here, but also in learning how they were constructed and understanding the materials and skills required to build them."

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