Romans put brakes on water project

A £13m project to improve water quality in Lancashire had to be halted after workers uncovered evidence of a Romano-British settlement.

Environmental engineering firm MWH was building two new pumping stations and a storage tank at Poulton-le-Fyde on behalf of United Utilities to reduce storm sewage spills into a watercourse.

During the work, the remains of two roundhouses surrounded by enclosures were found, which contained artefacts dating to the Romano-British period (AD43 – AD410) and possibly as far back as the Late Iron Age (200BC to AD43).

The site is one of only three excavated Romano-British rural settlements in Lancashire.

The remains were found in the main compound area, which is central to the pipeline, and work in that area had to be delayed for several weeks while it was excavated.

“It was believed that a Roman road may have been present in the area, so we had on archaeologist on site,” MWH programme manager John Potts said.

“As work progressed, evidence of a previously unknown pre-Roman and Romano-British settlement was found so construction work was stopped immediately at this particular location.”

Alison Plummer, of Oxford Archaeology North, which excavated the site, told edie that the find would not stop MWH’s work.

“The project is going ahead,” she said. “We have completed the excavation and that site is now the contractors’ main compound.”

Ditches marking out the enclosures around the two roundhouses contained artefacts such as burnt bone and pottery, which suggest the settlement was largely occupied during the Romano-British period.

The archaeologists believe it may date back to before the Roman invasion in AD43, and was possible still in use after the Roman occupation ended in 410AD.

One of the roundhouses was also excavated. Ms Plummer said: “We have found what appears to be a cobbled floor in one of the roundhouses, and a pit that could have been used as a storage area to keep food cool.”

Following completion of the pipeline works, the site will revert to pasture.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie