Roman Archaeology Around GSAL

Author: Yasmin – Year 7 Student

Peer Reviewers: Amber & Anna – Year 12 Student Editors

The Romans have made the news a lot recently with the finds of the spectacular Roman heads during the HS2 dig. HS2 is Britain’s new high speed rail line being built from London to the North West. Along the route, archaeologists are undertaking Europe’s largest archaeological dig and have made discoveries of national significance with finds showing Neolithic Bronze Age, Iron Age and Anglo-Saxon activity, as well as the Roman finds.

Following the finds of the HS2 Roman heads, journalists reported the find of bronze Roman sculptures of Gods that had been thrown into a water bath in Tuscany, Italy. Archaeologists think the fascinating statues were found there because the Romans believed that the Gods should be in a beautiful, warm, calming place…

But did you know…

There is a rich Roman history around GSAL!

Look at this OS map from 1892; you will be able to see that there is a Roman road running straight past where GSAL is today. This was part of an important East to West Roman road linking the Roman towns of Eboracum (York) and Deva (Chester). Locally, the road joined Ilkley to Tadcaster, where there was a Roman fort called Verbeia in Ilkley and the town of Calcaria (modern Tadcaster). Roman roads were quite wide (4.2 meters) so legions could pass each other marching in opposite directions. The roads could also be quite tall because of the solid foundation and cambered surface. However today, there is nothing visible remaining of the Roman road running through Alwoodley, we only know it exists when we look at maps like the one above and below. See how Adel on this map is spelt “Addle”.

There was also a Roman camp and fort only 2 miles from the school just off King Lane in Adel. Again there is nothing to see at ground level today, but the site is a scheduled monument, and I can see the field from my bedroom window! We know the site is there because in the 1700’s a farmer found some Roman artefacts while ploughing his field, and archaeologists then excavated the site between 1933 and 1938. The fort, called Burgodunum, was a wooden structure, thought to house around 500 Roman soldiers who guarded the road, and was built around 100AD. The picture below is what it was thought to have looked like…

Just across Eccup Lane in Adel is the site of a Roman camp, probably where the families of the Roman soldiers stayed, and also where local Britons would sell goods to the Romans. You can see where the camp was in this OS map from 1895. It is across the road from my house. The Roman fort and camp are known as a ‘ribbon settlement’ meaning buildings along a route of communication. The Roman artefacts found in Adel include: fragments of statues; glass wear; small alters; coins; human bones; pillars; roof tiles; stone flooring; cobbled areas; stone hearths; a brooch; querns (used to grind flour) and pottery.

Although there are no visible signs of the Roman road or settlement today, if you want to see Roman artefacts, I would recommend you visit Leeds City Museum. There you can see Roman artefacts such as…

References

Historic England Research Record (heritagegateway.org.uk) – search ‘Adel Roman Settlements’.

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