THE final report on archaeological digs carried out on stretch of motorway in North Yorkshire has been released.

The report, published by Highways England, consists of discoveries found on the A1 from Leeming to Barton, during a four-year archaeologist excavation.

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The finds are part of the Roman town of Cataractonium, which started in the AD70s, and tells of how people used the area over a period of 4,500 years.

The Northern Echo:

Archaeologists began a major programme of fieldwork in 2013 which lasted for four years and the investigated areas are known as south to north, Fort Bridge, Agricola Bridge and Brompton East and West.

The dig discovered new sites that were not previously known about, one of these being the roadside settlement of Scurragh House, which was 3.5 kilometres north of Cataractonium.

A total of over 62,000 items have been recovered from Cataractonium. Archaeologists also found 2.8 tonnes of animal bones, and 2.5 tonnes of pottery during the dig.

These included the oldest pistachio nut ever found in Britain, an iron spearhead, a bone dice and a jet bead.

The Northern Echo:

The excavation also added to more understanding of the Roman road known as Dere Street, which the A1 follows, as well as evidence of Roman improvements to the road network.

The report says that one of the main discoveries was "an extensive Roman cemetery site, where a total of 232 inhumation burials and 17 cremations were identified during the excavation of the site."

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"Further north from the site a major new Roman settlement was located at Scotch Corner providing some of the earliest and highest quality evidence of Roman activity in the North of England."

The dig found evidence to suggest that Legionaries and cavalry had been at the site at various times after items were found including harness beads, fragments of leather saddle cover, spearheads, a glided spur and iron horse bit, and graffiti on a dish.

Proof of a civilian settlement was also found on the site called a Vicus, all areas of which had developed into a more formal settlement and the town may have been supplied from a storage depot.

The Northern Echo:

This took the form of two timber granaries, a stock enclosure, and a well, where remains of a wicker basket and the earliest recorded pistachio nut found in the UK.

Towards what would have been the front of the settlement, the excavation found some important buildings, which included a mansio with a bath wing.

This was a high-status accommodation block for officials travelling from the Roman road network and was probably built at around AD160.

According to the report, the town continued to develop and be occupied by the Romans long into the 4th century and the settlement gained a regionally high status as one of the most significant Roman towns north of York.

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According to the report "now that the archaeological dig has finished, the discoveries from the excavations are now held by the Yorkshire Museum in York, where the artifacts will be kept, displayed as appropriate and made available for future research and learning."

The report continues to give "thanks to the public, who have shown such a keen interest in Archaeology throughout the project.

You can read the full report on the Highways England website.


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