Welcome to the Roman Southwell  community project.

We are a friendly, community archaeology group with an interest in our local heritage. Our aim is to explore the Roman settlement of Southwell and the surrounding region, through active research, landscape studies, practical fieldwork and community events.

ALL our work is funded via fundraising events and public donations – without your support we cannot operate. You can fund our work by donating to the project from just £10 – info below.


Crowdfunding ends on 31st October 2016

For more information, visit the About tab, and sign up to follow us!


OCTOBER 2016 – Summer Dig 2017 now booking!

We are now taking bookings for next year’s digging, see below for more details.


MAY 2016 – Phase Five crowdfunding campaign now LIVE!!

Can you help us reach our funding target? We are already 89% funded for this phase!


APRIL 2016 – Phase Four fully funded!

We are now fully funded for this summer’s excavation season. Thanks to everyone who supported.us!



You can donate or sign up to our project by clicking the image below:

2017 Dig – booking now!

We are now taking bookings for our Summer 2017 Training Dig!

This year, we found further undisturbed Roman deposits and revealed more information on our Harvey’s Field & Farthingate sites. These included a large ditch identified in 2015 via a geophysical survey which appears to have served as a flood defence for the top end of Farthingate, where we discovered Roman building debris and pottery.

Plans for 2017 include further exploration of the ditch, the rubble deposit and further target areas along Farthingate as we try and understand more about the Roman landscape at Southwell.


No experience is necessary, and full training and support will be provided. Those attending will be trained in fieldwork techniques such as excavation, finds identification, recording, planning, section drawing and height level surveying, and training is geared towards the Archaeology Skills Passports.

Places are limited, and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Placements run Mon-Sat each week, and cost £150 per week, or £200 for a fortnight (two consecutive weeks). Each placement week also has extra activities, including a walking tour of the town, a talk on the project’s discoveries over the last 3 seasons, and a social evening get together.

Dates are:

Week One – 3-8 July 2017

Week Two – 10-15 July 2017

Week Three – 17-22 July 2017

Week Four – 24-29 July 2017

To book a place, contact matt@mbarchaeology.co.uk

Farnsfield Camp

Our current research phase sees us investigate the Roman road between Southwell and Osmanthorpe Fort, near Kirklington. We are conducting fieldwalking and geophysics, kindly supported by a grant from the Nineveh Trust, in fields adjacent to the road, and have already recovered lots of Roman pottery.

Our wider research has suggested that the road (which runs southwards to Ad Pontem Fort) continues northwards to Bilsthorpe and beyond, eventually leading to Gleadthorpe Camp near Warsop. This is contrary to previous beliefs, which suggested the road reached Osmanthorpe and then veered westwards and lead to Farnsfield Camp.

However, to further support our belief that the road continued to the north (as opposed to running to the west) we have been examining the 1978 excavations that took place at Farnsfield Camp (see Transactions of the Thoroton Society, Volume 86, 1982), which identified the bank and ditch earthworks of the camp and two terminals that formed the entrance. Interestingly, this aligned perfectly with the modern road, suggesting it still lies on the same route as the Roman road almost 2000 years previously!

Farnsfield Camp


Figure One: Plan of the 1978 excavations at Farnsfield Roman Camp, showing earthwork defences and entrance that aligns with the modern road to Farnsfield. The entrance terminals can be seen in Trenches 1 & 2. (Source: Transactions, Vol. 86, 1982)






With this in mind, it becomes clear that the alignment out towards Osmanthorpe (the previously projected line of the Roman road) is completely wrong. Instead, both roads lead directly to Hexgreave Park (where a Roman lead ingot was recovered many years ago as an isolated find), where they would in fact converge.

So, it seems we may have another target for future research! This is another example of how the Roman Southwell Community Project is changing what we know about the Roman landscape of the region.



Figure Two: Aerial view showing Farnsfield Camp plan in the landscape (top left) and a close-up of how the profile fits the modern road layout (bottom left). Viewed in the wider landscape, it can be seen that both roads are leading towards Hexgreave Park (©MBArchaeology, 2016)

Summer Fieldwork 2016 – get involved!



We are now taking bookings for our Summer 2016 Fieldwork programme, which will take place between 18-30 July as part of the national Festival of Archaeology.

You can sign up for Week One (18-23 July) or Week Two (25-30 July) for just £100, or do both weeks for £200. Full training and support is provided, and no previous experience is required.

The 2015 Season saw a mix of local people, those from further afield (and abroad!), students and a curious dog(!) get involved. Our digging gave us glimpses at the Roman landscape that immediately abutted the Roman villa (one of the largest in the country) including an abundance of Roman pottery and a couple of drainage features. We also had good geological deposits that showed that series of floods / waterlogging had occurred over our site (at least 60m away from the current Potwell Dyke.



This appears to show that the villa sat in a very wet region, one which may well have had to be drained in order to make it accessible. The drainage ditches appeared to be running from an area on Farthingate (where previous Roman pottery and tiles have been discovered) and down towards the Dyke / river.


Our site

Our targets for 2016 will be to focus on the area of Farthingate , and to also further explore a wide ditch feature on our 2015 site noted on the geophyscial survey.

If you would like to get involved, please visit our sign up page at gofundme.com/romansouthwell and choose the ‘Caesar Package’ (£100). We will then contact you to see which week you wish to come. Or, to book both weeks, simply purchase two ‘Caesar Packages’.

Roman Southwell – update

The next phase of the project will be officially launched at our event on Tuesday 20th October. This new phase will see us undertake further geophysical surveys and fieldwalking, as we start to explore sections of the Roman road that linked Southwell to the fort of Osmanthorpe (Kirklington).

The event will also be a chance for local people to hear about the results from the 2015 Season (Phase Two) – venue is The Old Courthouse, Burgage, Southwell from 7.30pm (entry is £3).

The Interim Report is now finished and can be downloaded by clicking here.

Finally, we will be selling our Roman Southwell Gladiator beer at the Bramley Food & Drink festival at Southwell Minster on Saturday 24th October – come along and and see us if you are near by!

Limited Edition Roman beer available now!

Our specially-brewed ‘Roman Southwell Gladiator’ beer is now out in bottled form!

Brewed in partnership with Welbeck Abbey Brewery, it is made with British barley and Boudicea hops, creating a 3.8% pale ale that is strictly Limited Edition – when its gone its gone!

The beer is available direct from us priced £20 for an 8-bottle pack. All profits go directly into funding the project.

2015 season – fieldwork dates

The 2015 season of fieldwork (Phase Two) is now underway, with our first activity being a geophysical survey of our Harvey’s Field site on Wednesday 3rd June.

This will identify any possible features that are buried under the ground.

Beyond this we will be undertaking excavations on the site on:

Monday 13th July & Tuesday 14th July

Monday 20th – Saturday 25th July

Sunday 30th & Monday 31st August

Then, we will be hosting four Finds Analysis sessions on Tuesday 8th – Friday 11th September.

The 2015 season finishes with our ‘2nd Southwell Archaeology Day’ event at the Minster School on Saturday 12th September. This event will feature five talks on recent archaeology projects and runs 1.30-5pm. Entry will be just £10, with all proceeds going towards Phase Three of the project, due to start in October.