Revealing the Roman dead in North Lincolnshire

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Excavations near Winterton, North Lincolnshire, have uncovered a Roman cemetery containing the remains of men, women, and children dating back almost 2,000 years. (IMAGE: Allen Archaeology Ltd)

A large Roman cemetery has been unearthed near Winterton, North Lincolnshire, five miles northeast of Scunthorpe. With excavations ongoing, over 60 burials believed to date to between the 2nd and 4th century AD have been revealed so far.

The excavations are being undertaken by Allen Archaeology Ltd in advance of a new housing development in the area. While a geophysical survey and trench evaluation had been conducted in 2014-2015, showing that burials were likely to be located there, archaeologists had not realised the extent of the cemetery until the full excavation. The site lies close to three Roman villas and the Roman settlement of Ad Abum, at modern-day Winteringham – just to the south of the River Humber and near to Ermine Street, the Roman route that ran between London and York.

Two distinct types of burials have been identified, with some individuals appearing to have been interred in coffins, and others seemingly in shrouds. Archaeologists on site believe this could indicate two distinct phases in the timeline of the cemetery, with funerary rites having changed. The burials are also in neat, well-organised rows, indicating that it was likely a planned cemetery that may have been in use for several generations. Grave goods discovered so far include pottery, bangles, and, next to one burial, what appears to have been a whole leg of lamb.

Post-excavation analysis will hopefully help illuminate the lives of this Roman population. As Natasha Powers, Senior Manager at Allen Archaeology, noted, ‘Were the people buried here related and where had they come from? We have a chance to look at the population of the area in the Roman period.’

Excavation at the site is still in process, so more discoveries may hopefully still be revealed. All finds will eventually be archived in a local museum.

This article appeared in CA 345.

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