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Excavations on Pre-Roman Sites in Britain

Nature volume 143, page 673 (22 April 1939) | Download Citation



DURING the past five years, land development at Ewell in Surrey has brought to light extensive evidence not only of Roman occupation, but also of a succession of pre-Roman settlements of considerable importance, some indeed dating so far back as the Mesolithic Age. A further find recently reported (The Times, April 14) lies west of the Epsom road, some two hundred yards west of the recently proved line of the Roman Stane Street. The discovery is due to Mr. A. W. G. Lowther. It includes relics of the Mesolithic Age, the Early Iron Age, dating at about 500 B.C. and of the Claudian and Hadrianic periods. The site is near that at Thayles Hill, on which Roman and Saxon remains were found a few years ago. The attraction to settlers here, it has been pointed out, was the dry belt of Thanet sand, which runs through Ewell, and the plentiful supply of water available from the famous springs. Mr. Lowther has dug out at about two feet depth a Roman road, in part well preserved, of the standard width of twenty-one feet. It is constructed of chalk blocks overlying the sand, and a surface layer of flints, in which was Hadrianic and later pottery. A much-worn coin of Domitian was found in an underlying well. Below the road were first century Roman pottery and a domestic oven, two pre-Roman ditches, pre-Roman iron slag and part of an iron ingot and much pottery dating back to 500 B.C., as well as a big light brown pottery water-container of the late Early Iron Age. Some twenty yards to the west of the road were the remains of a Romano-British hut, with Roman debris. A detailed account of the find is to be communicated to the Society of Antiquaries of London by Mr. Lowther in due course.

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