AN ANCIENT settlement more than 2,000 years old has been discovered next to a garden centre – and has been heralded as a major find.
Archaeologists excavated a field next to Keydell Nurseries, in Havant Road, Horndean, and found Roman pottery such as Italian amphorae, which were used to store wine and olive oil.
The experts believe the fragments may predate the Roman invasion of AD43 and be as old as the 1st century BC.
This indicates that the Celtic tribes occupying south Hampshire may have established strong trade links with the Romans well before the Roman army descended on our shores.
The finds have yet to be fully analysed, but they are set to be donated to Portsmouth City Museum for the public to see.
The excavation was organised before construction began of a 60-home development.
The diggers discovered V-shaped ditches, which are likely to have been defences.
Pits, postholes and pottery fragments were also found.
Local councillor Guy Shepherd has been enthralled with the discovery, and said: ‘There’s some recent history of Horndean with the Gales Brewery.
‘It’s fantastic to know that thousands of years ago there was a Roman settlement and it’s likely to have been a fortified one.
‘It was part of the route from Portsmouth and London and it would be wonderful to know more about it.’
The work was carried out by Archaeology South-East – the contracting division of the Centre of Applied Archaeology at University College London – and was funded by developers Charles Church South Coast.
Andrew Leonard, project manager, said: ‘The site had a known potential for late prehistoric and Roman archaeology. During a preliminary evaluation of the site by trenching, and a further phase of excavation, evidence suggested a defensive function to the site: the main enclosure of this site in its location at the top of a hill would have given it good vantage over the surrounding area.
‘Part of the work will be refining the dating of the features as far as possible using specialists who can pinpoint the date of shards of pottery retrieved from the site relatively accurately.
‘Now that the detailed investigation has been completed, the lab work can begin and a post-excavation assessment report should be available in February. In the meantime, Hampshire County Council has signed off the area for Persimmon to continue with its development.’
This year archaeologists discovered a Roman well in the centre of Havant – with a gemmed Roman ring at the bottom.