Guernsey Press

Alderney dig unearths Roman pottery but no walls

AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL dig in Alderney has unearthed some exciting finds, but has not turned out as was expected.

(Picture by David Nash, 32139744)

‘That is the way things in archaeology often turn out, but this site has been particularly surprising,’ said States archaeologist Dr Phil de Jersey.

Before work had started a team from the University of Reading had used ground-penetrating radar to survey the site.

‘The geophysical survey we did last June showed there were walls and structures, but we have found nothing at all,’ Dr de Jersey said. ‘It is state-of-the-art technology. So something somewhere has gone awry.’

The dig at Longis Common is due to finish at the end of the week and the compensation for not finding a structure was the amount of Roman pottery discovered.

‘It appears that the area we were digging was on the edge of the Roman settlement and had been an area where the Romans disposed of their rubbish. It’s very rich in finds, with more pottery than we have found anywhere else.’

Dr de Jersey said they had now dug through the Roman layer and have found more of the Iron Age cemetery they had seen on a previous dig.

The team had thought they might have come across the actual Iron Age settlement.

‘We have found cists and graves lined with stones, as we did at a previous site,’ he said.

‘It’s given us a good idea of just how large the cemetery was. It’s potentially 1,500sq. m, so a really big site.’

The team have so far discovered one skeleton and believe there might be others.

‘The sand helps preserve the bones as it’s less acidic. We will have the bones radio carbon dated, previously we have found remains spanning between 7th and 1st century BC. That’s getting on for 2,500 to 3,000 years ago.’

Dr de Jersey said they were still unsure of where the Iron Age settlement was based.

‘About 50 years ago there was a dig on higher ground where the golf course now is, which found evidence of dwellings,’ he said.

‘It’s on the list of places we would like to investigate in the future.’

The team have had up to 12 people at one time working on the dig since it started in May, just after the Coronation.

The volunteers included the Lt-Governor Lt General Richard Cripwell, who visited the

site for more than just a photoshoot.

‘He came every morning for a week, and mucked in with everything – digging, shovelling, barrowing. He actually enjoyed it so much he did extra hours,' said Dr de Jersey.