"The Romans at Nostell Priory"

The monograph for this site is now available: "The Romans at Nostell Priory: Excavationsat the new visitor carpark in 2009" by Dave Pinnock. Price £10+£3.95 p&p. Please email or write to On-Site Archaeology to order or purchase via Oxbow Books

A National Trust archaeological project carried out by On-Site Archaeology revealed the remains of a previously unknown multi-phase Romano-British settlement at the site of a new visitor car park at Nostell Priory, Wakefield. The remains had a surprising Roman military connection with implications both for our understanding of the Roman occupation in this region and the later, medieval history of the site.

A minor Iron Age phase preceded the early Roman phase, which was dated by late first to early second century pottery of types associated exclusively with Roman military sites. Wasters indicated a previously unidentified local kiln. The most likely interpretation of the site is a vicus-like settlement adjacent to an undiscovered Roman fort, raising the intriguing possibility that the earliest medieval religious community deliberately chose the site for its Roman associations.

The later Romano-British phases lacked military evidence and were characteristic of rural settlement elsewhere in the region, including land divisions, pits and a crop drier. So radical was the break from the earlier pottery types that there may even have been a hiatus in the habitation of the site after the early Roman phase. Several ‘empty’ graves were also found, including a stone-lined cist, which are likely to be of Romano-British date.