Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Entire Roman village is unearthed in Syon Park

Entire Roman village is unearthed in Syon Park

Louise Jury, Chief Arts Correspondent

The site has remained undisturbed partly because it lies in the Grade I listed Syon Park and has been protected against ploughing in recent centuries. But it might never have come to light without plans to build a new Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The hotel now plans to incorporate some of its Roman heritage into the finished building.
Archaeologists from the Museum of London continue to analyse objects including 11,500 fragments of Roman pottery, 100 coins and pieces of jewellery — such as parts of a gold ribbon bracelet — and burnt grain.
Senior archaeologist Jo Lyon said the find was “really exciting” because far less was known of “what Romans were doing in their hinterland” than in the well-documented cities.
“This is a chunk of Roman life. It has given us a valuable, rare insight into the daily life of an agricultural village on the outskirts of Londinium [London] that would have supplied the Roman city and provided shelter for travellers passing through.”
There is a segment of the major Roman road to Silchester in northern Hampshire, buildings that lined it and a field system where residents would have grown crops. The settlement would have taken root because Brentford was a Thames crossing point. The excavations — carried out two years ago but revealed only now — threw up finds that remain baffling to the experts. Human skeletons, Roman in date, have been buried in ditches placed on their side in a manner more suggestive of unknown prehistoric rites than Roman practice, Ms Lyon said.
The Duke of Northumberland, whose family has lived at Syon Park for more than 400 years, said the finds emphasised the estate's place as a “prominent landmark in ancient British history”.
Dale MacPhee, general manager of the new hotel, said she found it interesting that they were building new facilities to fuel and rest visitors exactly as the Romans had done. The 137-room hotel opens in the new year.

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