Among the Roman remains, the team has unearthed all sorts of artefacts left by the inhabitants, including cooking utensils like strainers, spoons, knives, a ladle, cooking pots, and tableware, as well as some prized possesions such as a surgical spatula probe that would have been used for applying ointments and oils to wounds, and some delicate, but well-preserved bone combs.
There’s also a corn dryer, used for drying corn after harvest. Charred cereal remains were found inside, as well as in some of the Iron Age pits, which show that people were growing wheat and barley throughout the Roman and Iron Age periods.
“It’s everything you’d expect to find at a busy settlement, but that’s what’s so exciting about it – these are the foods, homes, and artefacts that made up the everyday reality of these people’s lives” said Casswell.
The villa itself survives only as a footprint, and was completely stripped of all building materials in the past, to be re-used in new buildings elsewhere. Alongside the villa, there are about 42 graves. Most of the burials appear to be Roman.
“We think we might be looking at a site that was continuously occupied from the middle Iron Age, all the way through the Roman period, but there could also be signs of a brief hiatus. We won’t know for sure until we’ve had a closer look at all of the available dating evidence, but we’re very excited to find out the answer” he said.
The excavation is being carried out on behalf of Earth Trust – the environmental learning charity who look after many of Oxfordshire’s most popular green spaces, including the Wittenham Clumps.
DigVentures and Earth Trust have teamed up to create a series of free, interactive online events taking place between 16 February – 09 March.
Themed around the idea of home, the events will provide families and adults with a chance to learn more about the discoveries, and life in the past, directly from the archaeologists.
“With so many people being confined to their homes, we’re really excited to be able to provide a glimpse of what ancient homes were like. People will be able to find out what was happening along the River Thames in Oxfordshire during the Iron Age and Roman periods, and learn more about their homes – based on the evidence we’ve uncovered” said Lisa Westcott Wilkins, co-founder of DigVentures.
Earth Trust are also currently working on designs to reconstruct a roundhouse based on the archaeological discoveries, in order to preserve and share the story of the site.
“Although previous digs by Time Team and Oxford Archaeology close to the site had already revealed the first few signs that something might be here over a decade ago, we are lucky that we are now able to complete that story, reveal the true extent of what was going on here, and share some of the excitement with people at home” she said.
Want to learn more about ancient homes? Register for one of the upcoming events, including family-friendly sessions during Half Term at digventures.com/calendar