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No.58 November 2002

Monthly Newsletter

Romano-British Lancs - Insight

Lathom.jpg (13745 bytes)We were lucky to catch the last of the good weather for last month’s field trip to Dutton’s Farm. It turned out to be a most enjoyable morning thanks to our guide Ron Cowell from Liverpool Museum.
As I mentioned in last month’s Newsletter, Ron and his team have been excavating here over the last few years and have uncovered a wealth of information about everyday life in Pre-historic Lancashire.

Iron Age Farmstead

The main settlement consists of five or six roundhouses, many pits and two granary buildings, dating to about 150 BC to 150 AD. It was possibly set within a large encircling ditch, which would have had a bank and hedge on its inner edge. This may have replaced a wooden palisade or large fence.
About 60 m to the south of the main settlement a series of further settlement features have also been found. These are, as yet undated, but superficially they appear similar to those already uncovered for the late prehistoric and Romano-British periods in the main settlement area.

Dutton's Farm1.jpg (55680 bytes)

Roman Period

The main settlement may have been abandoned in the early Roman period as a Roman trackway runs across its western edge. This suggests that between about the 2nd to 4th centuries AD, the farming landscape of the settlement changed dramatically. Other elements of this early agricultural landscape have been found about 80 m to the west, where there is a network of other trackways and field boundaries of Roman and later date, some of which may be pre-Norman.

Dutton's Farm is situated on the right-hand side of the main road to Burscough, opposite the Lathom Hall Park Estate. Ron and his team will be here again next season, excavating the site as part of a structured training programme. Organised by the University of Liverpool, these courses allow students and professionals to work along side each other. If you are interested please contact Mrs Leslie Crombie, Centre for Continuing Education, University of Liverpool, 19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool, L69 7ZG
Tel: 0151 794 2550/6900

Next Meeting

Wednesday 6th November at the BP Centre (Scout HQ) in Greenough Street, at 7.30 pm as usual. This month’s speaker is Bernard Champness from the North-West Regional Industrial Archaeological Society, whose talk will be on ‘Industrial Archaeology of East Lancashire’, which I am told will have a specific link with Wigan. Bernard and his colleagues have shown great interest in our Arley mill sites and the industrial landscape of the Arley valley. They think there is great potential for a joint study and research project, which could probably include funding from the National Heritage Initiative. We will be able to discuss this with Bernard after the meeting. Hope to see you there.

Time Flyers

is a news series on BBC2 on Thursdays at 7.30pm. Watch out for the episode on the Roman frontier in Scotland. In it, a team from Manchester University excavate along the line of the Gask frontier, a series of Roman forts and watch towers stretching from Perth to Dunblane which marked the line reached by Agricola. We are told by the historian Tacitus that, the then governor of Britain, marched his legions as far north as the Moray Firth and fought a decisive battle there in 84AD, before being immediately recalled to Rome. This new research, however, shows that the Romans were in Scotland for as long as 15 years, before their eventual withdrawal in late 86AD. The Manchester team have found strong oak forts rebuilt, in some cases not once but twice, suggesting the Romans stayed much longer than 18 months. The evidence of rebuilding and coins found on the sites have led to a date for the first Roman conquest at around 70AD, a decade earlier than was previously thought. This means it would not have been Agricola, who happened to be Tacitus's father-in-law, doing the conquering, but one of his predecessors, Petilius Cerealis or Sextus Julius Frontinus. This has huge implications for Roman occupation in whole of Northern Britain.