Date set for South Yorkshire Roman dig

Dr Lauren McIntyre, archaeologist
Dr Lauren McIntyre, archaeologist

A date has been set for the start of a project which could help uncover secrets of South Yorkshire’s Roman past.

Plans are being prepared to dig up the back garden of a quiet suburban home in a hunt for precious Roman remains.

Andrew Allen has already found a number of pottery shards in the soil behind his home in the village of Swinton, arousing the interest of archaeologists.

Now a full-scale excavation of the site is to begin on October 6 – if the public comes forward to raise the £3,500 cost.

Already more than £1,100 has been contributed by 45 supporters and it is hoped the rest will be found soon.

In charge of the project is Dr Lauren McIntyre of Elmet Archaeological Services.

She said: “The South Yorkshire region is generally overlooked in terms of Roman history. But Andrew’s finds suggest the presence of a previously undiscovered archaeological site.

“He has found approximately 90 fragments of pottery, including high status wares such as samien, traditional cooking wares and rusticated pottery, as well as possible glass and metal working waste products.”

Swinton lies between the Roman Ridge and the south west Roman road from the fort at Doncaster.

A coin hoard dating to the third century was found a short distance from the site in 1853 during the construction of a house cellar.

Despite these nearby features, the area is still considered to be of little interest or importance during the Roman period.

Dr McIntre said it was hoped the dig would change that view.

She said: “We are giving the general public a chance to be involved in what has the potential to be an exciting project investigating a previously undiscovered Roman site.

“People donating can get access to daily updates of how work is progressing. The more people donate, the more they can be involved – they may even get the chance to help us dig.”