Roman and Bronze Age artefacts discovered on UWE Bristol construction site

Issue date: 27 July 2018

Roman coins, jewellery and items of Bronze Age pottery found during excavation work at a UWE Bristol site are to go on display at an archaeology festival on Saturday.

The finds were discovered at the construction site of Hillside Gardens in Frenchay, the University's new state-of-the art sports facility due to open this autumn.

Among the items found were pottery dating back to the Bronze Age, a Roman bracelet, coins and a necklace bead from the Iron Age, which will be on display at Bristol's Brilliant Archaeology Festival.

Cotswold Archaeology made the finds during excavation work earlier this year and revealed a Roman site close by, which appears to have been a farmstead. Features consisted of a circular ditch that experts believe was a roundhouse.

A small number of pottery sherds (broken pieces of ceramic material) were found at the site. Archaeologists estimate they date back to a timeframe between the late Bronze Age and early Iron Age. They also discovered pottery from between the first and fourth centuries AD.

Two copper-alloy coins from the site are of particular interest to archaeologists. Tom Brindle, who is Post-Excavation Manager at Cotswold Archaeology said: "Many rural Roman sites in Britain do not produce coins, however Hillside Gardens falls within the part of the country where coins at rural sites are much more common. One of the coins is of Emperor Crispus, and was struck at a mint in London between AD 318 and 324.

"The occupants may have been familiar with their use for making purchases at markets but barter and the fulfilment of social obligations may well have served as methods of exchange alongside coinage too.

"Besides the coins, a glass bead was found, which is likely to have been from a necklace dating to the third and fourth centuries and part of a shale bracelet in use from the Iron Age and throughout the Roman period. A complete quern stone, recovered from one of the ditches, would have been used to grind grain into flour."

Peter Fleming, who is Professor of History at UWE Bristol, said: “This is a very rare find. Bristol is widely believed to have originated long after the date to which these finds have been allocated - the Romans seem not to have realised how much scope there was on the site where Bristol later grew up, and there does not seem to have been a major villa site around here. So, the farm to which these finds belonged would have been a smaller occupancy than a villa.”

Bristol's Brilliant Archaeology Festival will be held at Blaise Castle House Museum on Saturday 28 July. The event is a family-friendly day of tours, displays and demonstrations. Admission is free – donations welcome.

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