Roman Lead-and-Silver Processing Site from Oakenholt

From the Leader:

WORK at a major building development has unearthed evidence of a Roman settlement.

The discovery at Anwyl Construction’s Croes Atti project at Oakenholt, near Flint, includes a well-preserved section of Roman road, pottery, buildings and evidence of an industrial complex processing lead and silver mined at nearby Halkyn Mountain.

Andy Davies, Anwyl Construction technical director, said: “We have experience of finding Roman remains in the past and we had a watching brief on the site.

“We uncovered the Roman remains quite early in the work. We stripped the top soil away and found something straight away and since then we have been working with local archaeologists.

“They believed there were Roman settlements in the area and archaeological work had been done here before but nothing had been found.”

Anwyl, which plans to build more than 180 houses on the first phase of the Croes Atti development, is now helping fund the three-week exploration of the site, along with Cadw.

Will Walker, of Earthworks Archaeology, said: “It’s a fabulous find and it’s on our doorstep.

“We have a remarkably well-preserved Roman road in good condition and the site is throwing up all manner of interesting things including a lot of lead which suggests it was connected with the lead workings on Halkyn Mountain.

“The lead – and silver – would have been processed at this site, converted into lead ingots, known as pigs, and probably transported to Chester by barge and would have been used in the building trade for pipes and roofing.”

Metal detectors have uncovered large quantities of lead and the probable corner of a building has also been found.

Leigh Dodds, principal archaeologist with Earthworks Archaeology, said: “A large building was excavated further down the road back in the 1970s and that may have been the home of the procurator, the Roman official in charge of this settlement.

“But nothing had been found in this area but there is clear evidence of a settlement with buildings either side of the Roman road.

“There has also been high class Samian-ware pottery, probably made in what is now central France but was then the Roman province of Gaul, and even pieces of stone, basically furnace slag with traces of lead which show this was an industrial site processing lead ore.”

Steve Suddick, development engineer for Anwyl, said: “We started work on the site last week, carrying out groundworks and we started uncovering Roman remains within a day or two.

“We are able to carry on with work on another part of the site so the archaeological investigation can go on here as well so we are working well with them.”

According to this page, in the past, brick/tilestamps of the Legio XX Valeria Victrix have been found in the area, although there’s not evidence of a fort …