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More Treasure Unearthed at Roman Site in Swindon

Treasure Trouve, Swindon
Treasure Trove:
Archeologist Joern Schuster holds up the
lead figurine, thought to be that of the
Roman Goddess Isis, found at
Groundwell Ridge in 2004
calyx multimedia
Groundwell Ridge, the archeological site described by English Heritage as 'one of the most important Roman finds in England', continues to throw up even more interesting artefacts from Swindon's fascinating past.

Recent discoveries have included more proof of the existence of a possible Roman bath and villa complex on the site, plus a fascinating collection of coins, glassware and pottery dating from as early as 100AD.
 
Lead Figurine

But probably the most exciting item excavated is a 6" high lead figurine, thought to be that of the Roman Goddess Isis.

Exploration, Swindon
Painstaking exploration:
archeologists delving into
Swindon's past
calyx multimedia
That is the growing opinion of a number of expert archeologists on the site who have been patiently investigating the Roman remains for the last month. They have been joined in that period by local volunteers from around Swindon who have all enthusiastically mucked in to uncover the mystery of the 12 acre site first discovered in 1996.

That was after Swindon Borough Council and English Heritage saved the site from developers after contractors first uncovered the buried walls of Roman buildings while contructing the nearby Abbey Meads estate.

The Isis statuette is a key find, not only for its rarity, but for the fact that it points the origins of the site to being more of a religious shrine, possibly focused on a natural spring with a nymphaeum a temple of the nymphs - and a complex of sanctuary buildings below.

To shed light on this, the discovery, along with hundreds of other items, is now being carefully recorded and packaged for further analysis. It is hoped that its true identity and potential provenance will be known later this year.

Speaking about the dig - the second major excavation on the site and the culmination of a two year project orchestrated by English Heritage - lead archeologist Peter Wilson said: "It's been a fascinating last 4 weeks here at Groundwell Ridge and hopefully we will return next year to unearth more treasures.

Excavation, Swindon
Ahead of their time:
the excavation has unearthed
buildings with what is thought
to be under-flooring heating -
not seen in the UK again until
the 19th century
calyx multimedia
"In many ways, this latest dig has thrown up more questions than answers. But what we're nearly sure of is that the remains are of late Roman origin, perhaps of the early 2nd Century. It is thought the complex could have been around for perhaps 250-300 years and it certainly would have seen seen many changes in that time.

"Confusingly, the discovery of a timber framing on top of the brickwork also points to post Roman development and an Anglo-Saxon influence.
 
"This, in particular, is well worth investigating further."
 
Key volunteer involvement
 
Wilson also spoke of the volunteer involvement this year that once again proved to be a key part of a successful 2004 dig.

History Lesson At Excavations, Swindon
History lesson:
The Groundwell Ridge team have encouraged
local school children to get involved in the
project
calyx multimedia
"We have had a team of professional archaeologists working alongside and training local people in archaeological techniques, and it has all worked out tremendously well. There has been huge response from people genuinely interested in their local heritage and I thank them all for their hard-working efforts," he added.
As the project now concludes, the site is being backfilled to protect it from the elements. Plans for a third dig have yet to be confirmed but now are currently being considered by English Heritage and others funding the project.
 
Celebrity interest
 
In 2003, the Groundwell remains attracted the attention of Channel 4's Time Team, who filmed at the North Swindon site over the weekend of their 'Big Dig' on 28 and 29 June.
 
Celebrity archeologists over the two days included Tony Robinson and comedian Eddie Izzard, who announced he would find '...gold and swords and a wheel off a chariot' when he arrived to help with the excavations last year.
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