In August 2021 excavations were undertaken at the site of a major extra-mural temple complex to the NE of Venta Icenorum (Caistor-by-Norwich) by the Caistor Roman Project, a local community archaeological group (https://caistorromanproject.org/). The complex comprises a large temenos containing a major temple of Romano-Celtic plan (investigated in 2019) and a large villa-like building (which was the focus of the 2021 season).
Ground penetrating radar and a small trial trench in 2018 had indicated that the villa-like building was complex and multi-phased. The 2021 work demonstrated that it was a substantial masonry building, probably with two-storeys, decorated with tessellated pavements and quite elaborate painted wall plaster. In addition, the excavations added considerably to the evidence for pre-Roman occupation in the area of this building, suggesting that the temple may represent continued use of a pre-Roman cult site. The villa-like building dated to the 2nd century but seemed to be abandoned by the mid 4th century, perhaps reflecting changes brought about by the construction of Venta Icenorum’s town wall which severed the road connecting the town to the temple.
The NW corner of the temenos was also investigated, with post-holes demonstrating the presence of lean-to structures built against the interior of the precinct wall and the existence of extensive gravel surfaces on its exterior. Post-excavation and report preparation is ongoing.