Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Romans on the Yorkshire Coast

The discovery of a Roman building complex at Eastfield, which is part of the southern suburbs of Scarborough, has attracted considerable interest. 

The presence of Roman troops at the signal stations along the northern Yorkshire coastline in the later period of the Empire has long been known. The remains of the best preserved of these can indeed be seen at the eastern edge of the promentary on which Scarborough Castle is situated. Some miles to the south at Rudston there was a villa with mosaic floors which are now on display at the museum in Hull. 

However what has attracted attention in the latest discovery is that it is not clear what type of building it was. No comparable structure in known here in Britain. One possibility is that it was a villa with a temple or equivalent feature at its centre. Another suggestion is that it might have been a shrine with accommodation for administrators and for pilgrims. It appears that the buildings replaced an earlier villa or possibly that it had two predecessors.

The site was discovered during preparations for building work but will be preserved as the plans are being altered to accommodate the discovery. For the immediate future it will be reburied to preserve the foundations. Unfortunately it has already attracted the unwelcome attention of unprincipled metal detectorists, but that situation is now being monitored more closely.

There is a report on the discovery from the Smithsonian Magazine at Archaeologists Unearth Sprawling Roman Ruins Unlike Any Found in the U.K.This stresses the importance of the site and has good aerial  photographs. Another report, with more details and which also emphasises the quality of the buildings, and suggests they may have been dismantled rather than falling into decay is from The Scarborough News. This, which has photographs of the site at ground level, can be seen at Scarborough Roman villa: Trespass at significant ruins 'inevitable' say Historic England

LiveScience Essentials also has a report about the discovery which rather concentrates on the actions of the illicit metal detectorists but does also have good views of the site and gives a good indication of its size at Vandals sack Roman-era estate and bathhouse just discovered in UK

The Roman-era estate's remains include a cylindrical building and a bathhouse.
The foundations of the cylindrical main building and its adjuncts. There is also a bathhouse.
Image: MAP Archaeological Practice and LiveScience Essentials

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