A huge complex from the Roman army's invasion and a pit containing a pig's head have been found at a Devon crematorium

By Culture24 Reporter | 05 May 2016

A mystery pig's skull and a roundhouse built by the invading Roman army have been discovered during a dig to create a car park

A photo of archaeologists working on a brown Roman site at the Exeter and Devon Crematorium
© AC Archaeology
Two “classic” Roman military buildings, divided into a series of rectangular rooms during the Roman army’s conquest of the south-west in the second half of the 1st century, are being excavated by archaeologists at a crematorium in Exeter after being discovered near a late Iron Age roundhouse which may have been built to subdue the local population.

Experts say a Roman military supply base, set next to the planned position of a car park for the Exeter and Devon Crematorium, could have been part of the largest complex of military sites in Britain, built on a Roman road between Exeter and the maritime town of Topsham. A pit containing the complete 200-year-old skull of a pig has also been found in a mysterious pit.

The buildings were constructed by inserting horizontal timbers into narrow trenches, supported by upright posts. A previous dig at the adjacent St Loyes supply depot, where a fort was created on top of a larger Iron Age settlement, identified the roundhouse of the invading Roman army.

A photo of archaeologists working on a brown Roman site at the Exeter and Devon Crematorium
© AC Archaeology
Liz Govier, of AC Archaeology, believes the complex would have played a critical role in the army’s campaign and the distribution and supply of imported goods from the French ports to the Roman army stationed in south-west Britain.

“As an Archaeologist, this is a very exciting find and is extremely important to the history of Exeter,” she says. “What is fascinating is that the military buildings are located outside the perimeter of the adjacent supply base.

“It will be interesting to find out what role they played and if they pre-date its construction.”

School visits and a display interpretation panel are being planned at the proposed overflow development.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of archaeologists working on a brown Roman site at the Exeter and Devon Crematorium
© AC Archaeology
Three places to see Roman military remains

Wall Roman Site, Staffordshire
Wall was an important staging post on Watling Street, the Roman military road to North Wales. It provided overnight accommodation for travelling Roman officials and imperial messengers. The foundations of an inn and bathhouse can be seen, and many of the excavated finds are displayed in the on-site museum.

Senhouse Roman Museum, Maryport
Dramatically sited on cliffs overlooking Maryport harbour and the Scottish coast, this unique and award-winning Museum is next to the site of the Roman fort built at the centre of Hadrian's coastal defences on the Solway. It is housed in a Royal Naval Reserve Battery building, and a new display covers the history of the building and of the military units associated with it.

National Roman Legion Museum, Newport
Almost 2,000 years ago, the Roman Empire dominated the civilised world. Britain was its furthest outpost and, in AD 75, a fortress was founded at Caerleon which would guard the region for more than 200 years. This museum shows what made the Romans a formidable force.
Latest comment: >Make a comment
As a Govier whose origins I believe are Devonian I was wondering if Liz and I may have a connection. Would love to know more. My family tree is on Wikitree if you would like to know more. Look forward to hearing.
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