Investigation of the extra-mural zone of Caistor-by-Norwich (awarded 2023)

Excavations within the grounds of the Caistor Hall Hotel added to our knowledge of development and topography of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum. Two trenches were excavated. The first uncovered in situ Iron Age features suggesting that early activity in the area lay to the northeast of the Roman town was probably focused around a cult site represented by the later temple. Alongside the results from earlier seasons, this adds further information to challenge traditional views of the town’s origins as a post-Boudican imposition on the Iceni.

The discovery of a major pottery kiln in the second trench reinforces the impression derived from geophysical survey and other excavations to the north of the walled town that suggests the presence of widespread industrial activity in this area. This activity seems to date from the early Roman period onwards, belonging to a period that both pre- and post-dates the town’s early defensive ditches. In summary, the chance to investigate a hitherto unexamined part of the town’s landscape has provided valuable insights into the development of the region during the late Iron Age and Roman periods. As well as supporting the research, the Roman Society’s support was also fundamental in enabling participation of volunteers of varying levels of experience whilst ensuring that the excavation is carried out to a high standard.