Rotherham archaeologists use crowdfunding in bid to reveal Roman South Yorkshire

By Ben Miller | 03 September 2014

Crowdfunding could allow a Swinton garden to reveal stories from Roman South Yorkshire

A photo of various stone archaeological artefacts on a wooden table
Crowdfunding could pay for a garden in Swinton, which yielded dozens of artefacts in June, to be fully excavated© Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd
Three months ago, Andrew Allen was gardening when he found pottery sherds in his garden in Swinton, near Rotherham – an area which, admit the team he reported his finds to, is considered of “little interest or importance” despite its Roman heritage.

South Yorkshire, say Elmet Archaeological Services, is “generally overlooked” when it comes to its former Roman ridges. But the very modern call of crowdfunding could be about to change that.

“The village lies between the end of the Roman ridge and the main Roman road running into Doncaster, which was a minor Roman fortress,” says Dr Lauren McIntyre, who is leading a public bid to pay for a full excavation of a garden which yielded 90 fragments of pottery in June.

“There was a Roman coin hoard found quite close to this site in 1853, and the finds that Andrew has uncovered suggest that we are potentially looking at something quite important.

“Crowdfunding gives the general public a chance to be involved in what has the potential to be an exciting project investigating a previously undiscovered Roman site.

“The more people donate, the more they can be involved. For higher donations, people will receive a t-shirt, a copy of the final report, or will even get the opportunity to come and help us dig.”

Joining the experts will cost benefactors £70. But for the more casual observer, a £1 donation will be enough to secure daily updates.

“We decided that we were going to properly start levelling this back garden off,” says Allen.

“We were digging the old grass up and we got some rubble down in the corner. We decided we were going to bury that rubble, and that’s when we found most of the pottery.

“There was a mixture of Samien, greyware, a lot of pot boilers…there was a lot of charring to the soil.

“We found a vast selection of different pieces of pottery – we’ve got valley ware, burnished ware, there’s evidence of building material, some tile, evidence of glass working.

“They have quite a large range of dates, I believe, through the Roman period.”

Forty-five backers have provided £1,163 so far, with the social enterprise group aiming for a total of £3,500. Dr McIntyre is also calling on supporters to encourage others to join in through Twitter and Facebook.

A week-long excavation is scheduled to begin on October 6, with any surplus funds paying for further analysis of the finds.

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A photo of a woman and two men standing against a wall holding archaeological objects
The team from the scoial enterprise archaeology group hope to raise £3,500© Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd
A photo of various slabs of pottery against a blue background
High-status wares such as Samien, traditional cooking wares and rusticated pottery were found© Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd
A photo of various slabs of pottery against a blue background
Glass and metal working waste products may also have been found© Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd
A photo of a slab of brown pottery against a blue background
The dig is expected to reveal much about Roman South Yorkshire© Elmet Archaeological Services Ltd
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