On Monday 4th April, Warboys Local History Society hosted a talk by Patrick Lambert on ‘Excavations at Priors Hall, Corby.’

It was a thoroughly informative and entertaining evening. Paddy’s infectious enthusiasm for and incredible knowledge of all things Roman were astounding. He works for Oxford Archaeology East and managed this significant project, which won the Current Archaeology Awards 2022, for the
rescue project of the year. 

Paddy began by exploding some myths. Only 1% of Romans were soldiers. They did not invent straight roads. The Romans came to Britain for the minerals. Northamptonshire was one of the most important parts of Roman Britain. They built many villas in Northamptonshire, though we are still in the dark as to what these villas actually looked like. One such villa was at Priors Hall, near Corby.

Between summer 2019 and spring 2020, in advance of housing development , Paddy and his team excavated a 1.8-hectare site. Little did they know what they were to find. They discovered a 2nd century Romano-Celtic temple-mausoleum which then was transformed into a 4th century tilery. This is one of the most significant recent excavations in the UK – and is just on our doorstep.

The temple- mausoleum was perhaps used by the family in the near by villa, to bury their dead. In the next few hundred years, the evidence suggested that it was developed into a tilery. The tilery was probably one of the largest in England, producing over 25,000 tiles per year. The team found many tiles, evidence of animal sacrifices and one of the largest lime kilns in the country. One of the most breath-taking finds was a tile, inscribed with, most probably, the name of the tiler who made it. It read “Nentius fecit – Nentius made me”. On finding this tile, the archaeologist cried! This is a very rare find.

The team also excavated one of the best-preserved Roman roads in Britain, maybe built around 60 – 100ad. Alongside the road, a body was found. It is suggested that this was an iron age lady, buried around 40-60ad, as the road was being built.

The find is one of the most significant in recent times. Paddy’s talk brought it alive. He confessed he had only scratched the surface of the excavation. So a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Further information can be found at oxfordarchaeology.com/news/912-romano-celtic-templemausoleum-found-at-priors-hall-corby

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