Ancient remains found at Doncaster market place site

Peter Robinson, of Doncaster Museum is next to the site on Doncaster marketplace where roman and anglo-saxon remains have been found. Picture: Andrew Roe

Peter Robinson, of Doncaster Museum is next to the site on Doncaster marketplace where roman and anglo-saxon remains have been found. Picture: Andrew Roe

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Anglo-Saxon and Roman remains are to be unearthed in the very heart of Doncaster town centre.

Tantalisingly for local history lovers, the remains are expected to include whole buildings from the Anglo-Saxon period.

The site of historic interest is the now-demolished former 27 Marketplace - perhaps best known as the old Dix’s Cafe.

The building was knocked down earlier this year, because of damage to its roof, but the demolition was controversial as the property’s owners did not secure the proper permission for it.

However, Doncaster Council is not expected to take legal action over the destruction of the 17th century building, which was one of the oldest in town.

It is almost certain that Doncaster was chosen as the site for a Roman auxiliary fort because it lay on the border between the powerful and truculent Brigantes’ tribe north of the river, and the relatively civilised and peaceful Coritani, a southern tribe incorporated within the Roman provincial system.

The new find is regarded as one of the most exciting in Doncaster for decades.

The last time significant remains were found in town was the discovery of the Cadeby Hoard, which attracted national interest.

Experts from the British Museum said: “This is a significant find and greatly enhances our knowledge of Doncaster’s past and the town’s significance in Roman Britain.”

Doncaster Museum’s archaeologist Peter Robinson said: “This is a significant find.

“It is a part of Doncaster where we know there was a Roman civil settlement and it also formed the core of the Anglo-Saxon town.

“It sits on the ground plan of earlier medieval buildings fronting onto the planned market place which was formally designed and laid out some time after the grant of the Market Charter in 1194.

“At this stage it is unclear what is down there it but I would expect that anything from traces of Roman to Medieval buildings and other features may survive beneath.”

As well as the Anglo-Saxon buildings experts expect to find evidence of a Roman civil settlement and parts of buildings and allotments or formal tenement plots known as burgages which fronted the market place.

It is the first chance archaeologists will have to examine the market place using modern archaeological techniques.

Mr Robinson added: “The prospects are very exciting - it’s pretty much the first chance we’ve had to look at the history of this part of Doncaster in any detail.

“It’s certainly the best chance we’re going to get.”

No date has yet been set for the excavations.