VIDEO: Historic finds on first day of Lancaster’s big Roman dig

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The first major archaeological dig in Lancaster for 40 years is now well underway.

Three long trenches have been dug out at Quay Meadow, behind the George and Dragon pub in St George’s Quay, and professional archaeologists have joined Lancaster District Heritage Group in an attempt to discover what’s buried underneath the Roman site.

Year 5 pupils from Heysham Mossgate School with metal detectorist Terry Harvey at the dig site in Lancaster

Year 5 pupils from Heysham Mossgate School with metal detectorist Terry Harvey at the dig site in Lancaster

Volunteers at the site have already uncovered Victorian and Georgian pottery, and what is thought to be a clay smoking pipe which could be from the 1700s.

Andrew Reilly, chair of Lancaster District Heritage Group, said: “The weather is fine, and it rained a bit last night making conditions really good.

“Just from the top soil itself we’ve two or three Victorian and Georgian bits. It’s only day two and we’re off to a good start.”

It is thought that a Roman port once stood on the site, indicating the river Lune took a different path to the current one.

Alan Nowell and David Ingham, members of Lancaster District Heritage Group in one of the trenches.

Alan Nowell and David Ingham, members of Lancaster District Heritage Group in one of the trenches.

Jason Wood, consultant archaeologist for the project said: “There’s nothing shown here on old maps of Lancaster, and this area has never been excavated before.

“Some features suggest an earlier port of the quay.

“The present quay is an 18th century reclamation project, which was formerly mud flats.

“The site we’re standing on was probably used for whippet racing from the 1930s onwards, and is now a space to watch firework displays.

Some of the items already found on the site

Some of the items already found on the site

“Some industry uncovered dates around the 19th century.

“There is evidence of a buried ditch or wall.

“It could be something more modern, but I think it might be something medieaval or Roman.”

The project has been inundated with requests from local schools to visit the site, and pupils from Heysham Mossgate School visited the site on Thursday, receiving an animated talk from metal detectorist Terry Harvey, who is lending his services to the dig.

One of the trenches on the dig site

One of the trenches on the dig site

Former Time Team member Raksha Dave, from Dig Ventures, which offers archaeological services and advice to community groups, said she was excited about what could be uncovered.

The dig will continue over the weekend, and conclude on Wednesday September 23.

Items and features will then be collected together and recorded, before the land is returned to its former state.