More than 5,000 finds have been unearthed during the first week of a north Norfolk community dig on a Roman site.
Up to 70 adults and children a day have been helping reveal the secrets under a field next to Woodgate Nursery, Aylsham.
A final five days of digging begin today, but site owner Peter Purdy and archaeologists are already thrilled at the discovery of two pottery kilns, thousands of broken pots, late Roman coins, and fragments of jewellery.
The nursery is believed to sit on the site of a Roman villa, including a bath house, and experts are hoping funding will be available in future to excavate it.
Among discoveries which caused most excitement during last week’s dig was a piece of kiln lining on which the Roman maker’s finger and thumb prints are clearly visible.
Woodgate’s Peter Purdy said it had helped bring history alive for the amateur diggers who have included Broadland District Council’s Tots2Teens holiday club members, and pensioners.
John Davies, chief curator and keeper of archaeology with Norfolk Museums Service, described the site as “tantalising” and said it offered a valuable insight into rural Norfolk in Roman times, compared with urban Roman settlements, like Caistor St Edmund, near Norwich.
“It’s very interesting – were the kilns a small-scale industry or were they serving the villa?” asked Dr Davies.
Dr Davies said the success and strength of community involvement in the project would be vital in supporting bids to the Heritage Lottery Fund for money to fund future excavation.
So far the dig, led by Bury St Edmund’s-based Britannia Archaeology, has been paid for by Mr Purdy, donations and fund-raising at events.
To continue the excitement with the dig we now have a competition at Purdy’s Tea Room, where we are asking you to name the Roman dog who once roamed and sniffed his way around Woodgate. Is he an Archilles, Artemis or Minotaur?
Pop to Purdy’s and ask for an entry form and submit you name for a chance to win £10 of Woodgate and £10 of Purdys vouchers. Peter will pick the best name in October.