Suffolk's Roman history on TV

WHEN Paul Atkins began digging a hole in his garden to place a fence post little did he realise the historical secrets he was about to reveal.The hard surface that met the end of his spade was not a large stone but the remains of an entrance to a Roman villa built in the 2nd Century.

WHEN Paul Atkins began digging a hole in his garden to place a fence post little did he realise the historical secrets he was about to reveal.

The hard surface that met the end of his spade was not a large stone but the remains of an entrance to a Roman villa built in the 2nd Century.

The find caught the attention of the producers of Channel 4's popular archaeological series Time Team, who spent three days filming there last April.

The programme, which looks at the Castle Hill estate in Ipswich - including the Atkins' garden in Tranmere Grove - is screened on Sunday.


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During excavations, the TV archaeologists uncovered a wall half a metre deep that is thought to have been part of the porch to the villa in the Atkins' garden.

Archaeologists have described it as one of the most important and largest finds of its kind in the county.

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Mr Atkins and his wife Wendy have over the years accumulated a collection of Roman artefacts, including pottery and roof tiles.

“It's common knowledge there's a Roman villa on Castle Hill. There was an excavation in the mid '80s on Chesterfield Drive and since then when we have been in the garden digging we have found evidence of Roman property,” said Mrs Atkins.

“About three summers ago my husband was digging a hole for a fence post and struck something that was more than just a stone.

“We called in a Suffolk County Council archaeologist and she decided it was definitely a Roman wall of some description.

“We never thought any more about it but we got a call from Time Team last February who said they wanted to investigate further.”

The Time Team crew was contacted by pupils from Castle Hill Junior School who sent letters asking them to unearth the history of their surroundings.

Over three-days the crew set up a base in the scout hall to investigate eight gardens.

Mrs Atkins said: “It was interesting on two levels, from the historical point of view but also having watched the Time Team over the years it was interesting to see how much they put into it.”

Jude Plouviez, an archaeological officer with Suffolk County Council, was a local archaeologists asked to help.

She said: “Essentially we have known for a long time there's a big villa in north Ipswich under the community centre in Castle Hill.

“It's very important as it's one of the most substantial Roman buildings in Suffolk. Some of it is very well preserved because it is under people's gardens and has not been affected by agriculture.

nA medieval silver brooch discovered by a metal detecting enthusiast is to be donated to a museum.

The brooch was found in Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, and is thought to date to the 13th or early 14th Century. It is slightly distorted due to damage from ploughing, and would have belonged to a prosperous family as it is made from good quality silver.

During a Treasure Trove hearing in Bury yesterday,Suzanne Cross, who discovered the jewellery, agreed to donate the piece to the town's Moyse's(crrct) Hall Museum.

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