Town Finds Change Our View of Romans

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Byline: By Tony Henderson

The discovery of what looks like a small Roman town in County Durham is adding to evidence that the region was not simply a harsh and dangerous military frontier zone.

The site of what is believed to be the town is being excavated between Sedgefield and the 18th Century landscape of Hardwick Park, which is currently being restored in a major project.

It would be the first Roman town in the North-East which is independent and not associated with military activity, such as a fort.

"It is an extremely important site of what seems to be a non-military settlement associated with trade and with all the Roman aspects of life at the time. It seems to be a town in its own right," said archaeologist Richard Annis.

"It suggests that the North-East is not particularly different from the rest of the country in the south and that it wasn't a backward, empty quarter as has been suggested in the past but was as Romanised as any other part of England."

Now in its second year, the project is organised and funded by Durham University and Durham County Council. Durham University Chancellor Bill Bryson joined the university's Archaeological Services team yesterday at the 150-acre site to learn more about the investigation and help in geophysical surveying.

Last year's dig by university students, local volunteers and children taking part in a Time Detectives project found evidence of enclosures and pits on either side of a Roman road running through the site. …