Ermine Street Community Dig

What We Discovered

The Ermine Street Community Dig is nearing its conclusion. The test pits have been excavated and the Finds cleaned and processed. Some items, such as the metal conservation and pot reconstruction have been carried out by specialists. The project has been hugely successful in terms of public participation. Over a hundred volunteers have donated more than 5000 hours of their time – digging, sieving, finds washing, pot marking, drawing and cataloguing. But what did we find? The answer is – lots!

The beautiful Roman copper alloy spoon after conservation
The beautiful Roman copper alloy spoon after conservation

Massive amounts of bone, tile and building material, classed as bulk finds, were uncovered.  We excavated a great deal of pottery, from pre-history to the 19th Century and everything in between. We also found some very special individual items including:

  • Roman carved hair pins
  • Roman Mortaria – large mixing bowls
  • Victorian children’s marbles
  • A Roman copper alloy spoon
  • Stamped Roman pottery, nicknamed ‘Daisyware’
  • 19th Century gun flints
  • A Roman tile with a cat’s paw print
Reconstructed Roman stamped pot nicknamed 'Daisyware'
Reconstructed Roman stamped pot nicknamed ‘Daisyware’
Roman carved hair pins
Roman carved hair pins
Victorian clay and glass marbles
Victorian clay and glass marbles

One of the dig’s most important discoveries was the most northerly Roman roadside burial yet uncovered. This changes the currently accepted view of the extent of Lincoln, or  Lindum Colonia as it was called, during that period. The grave contained a single body, that of a young woman.

The finds are currently on display at The Main Reception, The Hardy Building, Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, along with photographs from the project, until March 31st, 2017. They will then tour  a number of venues and we will be posting details soon.




Project Background – The Beginning

New15No21-012 (1 of 1)Lincoln was a major Roman and medieval city and Ermine Street (present day Newport) was the main route north from the city. The road was first laid out by the Romans at the end of the 1st century AD.

In the medieval period it was the site of an important market place. Research showed that there are gaps in our knowledge of the archaeology of this significant area of Lincoln.

Inspired by an recent excavation on Newport by Bishop Grosseteste University Field School, Lincoln Archaeology Group members and local residents, came up with a plan. A bid was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund and LAG was awarded a £46 600 grant to run a community based dig.

The Research Aims

    • Assessing the nature and condition of any archaeological deposits in the areas adjacent to the current road.
    • Looking for evidence that will assist in better defining the line of the Roman and Medieval road.
    • Gathering evidence that will help to determine the extent of extra urban occupation from the Roman period right through to the post medieval.
Visitors explore one of the test pits and handle some of the items uncovered
Visitors explore one of the test pits and handle some of the items uncovered

The ‘Ermine Street Community Dig’ is a community focused project which aims to answer some of these questions and develop skills and knowledge amongst the local residents and communities who live and work along Newport and Riseholme Road today. Twenty-three test pits were excavated from March 2015 – April 2016 with Finds processing and conservation work continuing for several months afterwards. Have a look at our Dig Diary for details. The final reports are currently being written up by archaeologists Zoe Tomlinson and Charles Simpson of Banks Newton Heritage.  We’ll post details of when it becomes available. In the meantime, please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to be involved in one of our projects.