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Persimmon Homes

Walking in the footsteps of Romans

08 August 2013

The remains of an ancient Roman vineyard have been discovered on a housing site being developed by Persimmon.

Archaeologists discovered the 2,000-year-old vineyard at the new Persimmon Homes site at Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire.

Archaeology and historic buildings consultant Duncan Hawkins, who led the investigations at the site, said the find was exciting because it ‘put another piece in the puzzle’ of the history of the area.

He said: “Although vineyards were fairly common, this is a significant find for the Leighton Buzzard region as it enables us to keep on building a picture of how the landscape used to be; in effect another piece in the jigsaw.

“We were unsure at first whether they were Roman or medieval remains, but because of the common practice of burials out in the fields we have been able to date it to the 2nd or 3rd Century.”

Duncan added that because the process of archaeology is in itself destructive, the site would be photographed, recorded and a 3d model created to keep the history alive.

Mark Gatehouse, Persimmon Homes Midlands technical manager, said the company called in the archaeologists as part of being granted planning permission to develop the site.

“We didn’t necessarily expect to find anything so to discover this old Roman vineyard was a real surprise.  It has proved to be very exciting and significant, because not much is known of the Roman presence in the area.

“It will be particularly interesting for new homeowners to move onto a site with such a fascinating history. They will literally be walking in the footsteps of the Romans every time they step out of their front doors.

The site – scheduled for new homes by both Persimmon and sister company Charles Church – lies close to the ancient Watling Street – one of the Roman’s most important highways and now the basis for the modern A5.

Persimmon have been granted permission to build a range of two to five-bedroom homes at the site, which will also feature an element of affordable homes.

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