CAGG teamed up with the Chess Valley Archaeological and Historical Society to undertake surveys near two Roman villas: Latimer and Sarratt. Latimer (Bucks) has been known since the 19th century, was excavated by Keith Branigan in the 1960s and was published by him in 1971. The Sarratt (Herts) villa site is less well known . However, in 1907 the remains of an apsidal building were uncovered by the local farmer. Field walking the area in the 1960’s by CVAHS found large quantities of scattered building materials and pot. The present day CVAHS team has worked on this site since 2006, and assembled evidence for a large Roman settlement present from the late Iron Age though to the 4th century (CVAHS Journals 2006-2012).
Two areas at Latimer were available for survey. The first was a strip of pasture between two arable fields to the south of Latimer Road. This strip has quite mature trees on it and had not been ploughed within memory. The second area was a small pasture to the north of the road leading towards the river, which at this point has been dammed to form the lake for Latimer House. We managed to finish both these areas on Monday 14th July 2014.
As can be seen from the results, we didn’t find much. The southern area has some linear stripes, which may be old plough features. They line up nicely with the fence line to the south-west. The northern area is very noisy indeed. It rather reminds me of the excavated areas at Verulamium and my guess is that there is a certain amount of building debris left over from the demolition of a nearby building. Of course, we must remember that negative evidence just means there were no magnetically enhanced features to find, it does not mean there is no archaeology present.
The following day we moved further down the valley to the site at Sarratt, just south of the river, and adjacent to fields where Roman features have been uncovered.
Unfortunately, we failed to locate any archaeological structures here either which was a great shame. We did, however, have the fun of watching CVAHS member Phil Nixon flying his quadcopter over the site to take photos and video of the work in progress and the site in general.
Many thanks to everyone who helped on the survey and especially to Yvonne Edwards and David Hopkinson for putting us up for the night and Jim West for returning the equipment.
The next survey will be in Leighton Buzzard!