Prospect Roman Remains

4th June 2008

As reported in the Ross Gazette1, Archaeologists are very excited about finds unearthed at the Prospect.

Since the War Memorial was removed from the corner of the Prospect, to allow the bank to be dug away, and because planning regulations decree that every development has to have an archaeological dig, some very interesting finds have been discovered.

The Prospect site (5-6-08)
The Prospect site
(Click for a larger image)

Dr Keith Ray, the Herefordshire Archaeologist, told the Gazette:

"We are fairly sure that the find is Roman. The pottery appears to be Roman. Our main difference of opinion is as to what it is, perhaps a Pharos style tower or beacon, or a mausoleum ... If we walked over it we would destroy it. It is a baked earth circle with a posthole in the middle and it has square foundations at the corners more than one metre thick - quite large stones and that suggests that it was once quite a tall structure."

Dr. Ray stated that the dimensions were similar to that of the Gazebo Tower near the Royal Hotel in both diameter and height. Below are two artists impressions of what the tower might have looked like if it was still there today.

Prospect tower (5-6-08)
Artists impression of the Prospect Tower
(Click for a larger image)
The Prospect tower (5-6-08)
The Prospect Tower
(Click for a larger image)

He also stated:

"Nothing has been lifted out, there was a layer of medieval material over the top, and because of the Bishop's Palace you would expect to find medieval remains."

Neil Shurety, also an Archaeologist, explained that a number of ditches had been dug down through Victorian and Medieval layers right down to the Roman layer. They also found a horses head with a band on it which has been seen at other Roman sites but is not a common find. He explained that it was an active site and said:

"There seems to have been an amazing amount of activity in a relatively small area."

The Prospect work (5-6-08)
The Prospect dig site to the west
(Click for a larger image)
The Prospect work area (5-6-08)
The Prospect dig to the south
(Click for a larger image)

It was thought that the tower may have been built here due to the location overlooking the river. There was evidence of the base of the churchyard wall having been built out of Roman stone so this may have been some of the tower stone being reused.

Councilor John Jarvis explained that the site was very important to the local area and he said:

He said: "We all recognise that this could be a super site for Ross. We and the local members will have to step back and re-evaluate and all take a look at where we go from here. Clearly the investigation here is going to take time, however that creates a problem locally, the War Memorial was here and by November we will have to find a temporary site for it."

Dr. Ray stated that there should not be too much excitement about the site until the true date of the layer can be determined. But he did also hint that it could be one of the most important Roman sites found in Herefordshire.

The Hereford Times2 reported that this was confirmed as a Roman site and that this reinforces the long-held belief, in archaeological circles, that there are Roman remains somewhere underneath Ross.

A coin was found during the excavations which was minted in London between 286-290 AD. The Tower or building is of an unusual design so it maybe a Iron Age temple or shrine, that the Romans rebuilt in stone, that maybe linked to the view of the river as a shrine to water gods. A number of other Roman temple sites have been recorded in Wales and the Marches which are located on viewpoints overlooking water.

Herefordshire Council is looking at holding open days and maybe adding viewing platforms but the obvious priority is preservation.

1 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday June 4th 2008
2 The Hereford Times - Thursday June 5th 2008
3 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday September 10th 2008 - no. 6727 - article: Roman remains or landmark tree?
4 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday September 17th 2008 - no. 6728 - article: A new home for Ross War Memorial
5 Ross-on-Wye Journal - Wednesday October 6th 2008 - article: Tree will go at Prospect
6 The Ross Gazette - Wednesday November 25th 2009 - article: Prospect restored
7 http://en.wikipedia....ncient_Roman_pottery,

[Page updated: Feb 15 2011 13:31:59]

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