Roman Rambles

On Tuesday September 14, 16 members and friends of the Foxearth & District History Society attended a tour of the roman villa site at Hill Farm Gestingthorpe, the home of Ashley Cooper and his father Harold

In 1947 Mr Harold Cooper began deep ploughing on the farm, during the course of which the plough started bringing up red tile. On approaching the experts at Colchester he was told it was roman. Being not long after cessation of hostilities in 1945 there was no money to spare on archaeological digs as all the clearing of bomb sites was opening up opportunities to investigate areas which hitherto had been covered with buildings.

Mr Cooper was advised to go it alone. This he did and so began an interest which continues to this day 63 years later.

We were led by Ashley to the site which is clearly marked by grassed areas surrounded by darker soil to show the extent of the walls. With the aid of many pictures which he has commissioned the extent of the settlement with the farm and artisan areas also marked. Ashley has a natural talent when explaining how the villa was built and occupied. By the use of members standing in for the owners and servants the various jobs needed to keep the whole setup running smoothly was made understandable to everyone.
Specific areas were pointed out where significant finds had been made; these were now displayed in the farmhouse museum. Ashley then took us on a field walk and we were instructed to keep our eyes on the ground to see what we could find. This walk produced a number of different tile pieces all of which he explained as to their original position on the villa.

The second part of the tour took us over the latest area of interest where much more digging will take place in the future

We later went to the barn museum where tea and biscuits were served and the new floor was officially open by Alan Fitch.

The last part of the tour was conducted in the farm house museum.

Next meeting is on Tuesday 12th October when we visit Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury. Meet outside at 10.20am sharp.

Comments are closed.