The Sherford site in Devon, which is being developed into a new town, has been providing fascinating insights into the region’s ancient history. Just last year, Ice Age ‘megafuna’ had been found, and now, a crucial ‘probable’ Roman link road, which facilitated trade and communication, has been located! It runs along the contemporary site of Sherford Business Park.
An Ancient Road: Linking Ancient Communities and Fostering Trade Ties
A team of archaeologists, working with Orion Heritage and AC Archaeology, has found evidence of an ancient road, described as a “key route” linking human communities thousands of years ago. In addition, Bronze Age homes and Roman farmsteads have also been found on the site, painting a rich picture of life in the region thousands of years ago, reports BBC.
The road has a crushed slate surface and visible drainage points, which are typical of Roman construction methods. The discovery of this road underscores the significance of the area as a hub of activity and commerce during the Roman period.
Says Rob Bourn of Orion Heritage, who called the finds “fascinating” amongst other things, explained that, “Enhancing our understanding of not just Devon, but also Britain’s ancient history, the archaeological work at Sherford continues to be fascinating. We are thrilled to work on these important historic investigations, and hope the findings at Sherford help to encourage everyone to take an interest in local history and secrets under the soil.”
Sherford has continued to reveal its rich history, with archaeologists uncovering the remains of a Roman road, alongside other fascinating finds! pic.twitter.com/hCnt7gYSnZ
— Sherford (@Sherford_Devon) February 3, 2023
A Thriving Place of Activity: Sherford During the Bronze Age
The archaeological team has also uncovered other artifacts that shed light on different periods of history. For instance, roundhouse postholes were found at the site, which are circular family homes made of natural materials. These postholes indicate that the area was a thriving place of activity during the Bronze Age (2700 – 700 BC). The team also found pottery dating back to 1500 BC, which further strengthens the case for the area being a bustling hub of human activity in ancient times, reports Plymouth Herald .
The Sherford site was also home to farmsteads during the Roman period, and square enclosures found at the site provide evidence of this. Flint tools were also uncovered, further testament to the rich history of the area. The Sherford Consortium, which is responsible for the development of the new town, plans to remove, analyze, and preserve these findings where possible, with a view to putting them on public display very soon.
The Sherford project, which began in 2015, aims to create 5,500 homes, shops, businesses, leisure facilities, schools, parks, and woodland. The archaeological investigations, which have been taking place since the start of the project, are funded by a consortium of developers and coordinated with the Devon County Council. The latest road discovery, according to Peter Sadler of the Sherford Consortium, shows the area’s significance as a key route for travel and trade between local families and communities thousands of years ago.
Several Layers of Occupation at Sherford
In summation, the Sherford site in Devon is providing valuable insights into the region’s rich and fascinating history. From ancient roads to Bronze Age homes and Roman farmsteads, the discoveries made so far are helping to enhance our understanding of not just Devon but also Britain’s ancient history.
The Sherford Consortium has made a commitment to removing, analyzing, and preserving these findings for public display, which is a testament to the importance of preserving and sharing the region’s rich cultural heritage.
In the same vein, just last year, as part of the same project, a massive cache of Ice Age animal bones were found in Sherford. These included the partial remains of a woolly mammoth, a woolly rhinoceros, and two species of Pleistocene Epoch megafauna that went extinct more than 10,000 years ago. There was also a near complete skeleton of an ancient wolf, and bones of a hyena, wild horse, and others.
The larger picture about the Sherford site points to periods of occupations during the time of the Ice Age, the Bronze Age, and the advent of the Romans. The historical and archaeological potential of this site are yet to be fully realized, thankfully!
Top image: Ancient Roman road, Sherford, Devon. Source: AC Archaeology
By Sahir Pandey