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Roman archaeological dig coming to a Barnston Estate field

Dozens of people have volunteered to take part in a community archaeological dig taking place in September on the Barnston Estate.

The project will see 45 people from Holt and Farndon, in teams of 25 at a time, excavating a field close to the River Dee.

The site is thought to be a Roman military fort linked to the tile and pottery works at Holt.

A mysterious playing-card shaped enclosure near Townfield Lane in Farndon has been revealed using LiDAR, a light-based remote sensing technology which uses light waves to detect objects under the ground.

The ten-day dig is being organised by the Holt and Farndon Community Archaeology Project and is supported by the Holt Local History Society. It is expected to start on September 10th.

Professional archaeologists Christopher Matthews and Nick Dawson, who are both partners of the research group Archaeological Survey West, will manage the project.

Archaeologist Christopher Matthews said: “We’re delighted that 45 people have volunteered to take part in the dig and we’re looking forward to getting started next month.

“We are looking at the archaeology that links the villages of Holt and Farndon and want to give both communities the chance to come together to investigate their shared heritage.

“The project aims to make sense of a small rectangular bank and ditch enclosure location on the Farndon side of the River Dee. The assumption is that this playing card shaped enclosure is Roman but we are hoping for something more definitive especially as it is very close to the scheduled Roman Legionary Tile Works.”

Holt Tilery was a large legionary tile and pottery factory which included workshops, barracks and a bathhouse for the legionary craftsmen. They would have made various wares here including hypocaust tiles to support underfloor heating and roofing tiles.

Edward Barnston, Estate Manager of the Barnston Estate, an historic Cheshire estate which can trace its history back to the Norman Conquest, said: “It’s incredibly exciting to be hosting an archaeological dig on one of our fields and I’m looking forward to seeing what they find.”

A public open day will take place at a date to be confirmed to display any findings. Archaeological Survey West will also be producing a site diary and a video documentary.

Published: 11.08.2022