Mounting excitement over ancient new archaeological find near Melton

Rev Kevin Ashby (right) team rector of Melton, with archaeologists interested in new finds in a field adjacent to Welby Church, from left, Mark Orridge, Sandy Saunders and Peter Watkins EMN-170524-114428001
Rev Kevin Ashby (right) team rector of Melton, with archaeologists interested in new finds in a field adjacent to Welby Church, from left, Mark Orridge, Sandy Saunders and Peter Watkins EMN-170524-114428001
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Archaeologists are becoming increasingly excited about a new ancient discovery on the outskirts of Melton.

A medieval village was already known to exist in the hamlet of Welby in the 1500s before it was cleared by the Lord of the Manor.

Local people are given a tour of a field adjacent to Welby Church where it is believed that remains of a Roman villa or a Danish settlement are buried under the surface EMN-170524-114442001

Local people are given a tour of a field adjacent to Welby Church where it is believed that remains of a Roman villa or a Danish settlement are buried under the surface EMN-170524-114442001

But now a high bank and ditch has been unearthed, in a field adjacent to St Bartholomew’s Church, which is not consistent with buildings from that era and which could pre-date the lost village.

A team of archaeologists working on the site are speculating that it might be part of a Roman villa or a Danish settlement, with evidence already that both had a presence in the Melton area.

Results of a topography survey are awaited to give more clues on the find.

Archaeologist Sandy Saunders said: “This is a high bank with an external ditch and it has a 90-degree turn, which is very unusual in a medieval village.

“It is also constructed from sandstone as opposed to ironstone.

“There is an idea that it could be a Roman villa because Roman pottery has been found on the site.

“It could also be Danish because we know the Danish Army was in Leicester and the Melton area was part of the Danelaw land in England controlled by the Danes.

“Everything is up in the air at the moment but we are excited to find out what it was.”

Mr Saunders was at Welby Church on Monday evening to give a presentation to local people on findings at the site.

He added: “There have been several Roman finds in the area, at Ab Kettleby, Scalford and at the army remount depot, and there are Roman track ways passing around it along the A46 and the Great North Road.

“But we can’t say with any degree of certainty at this stage that this was a Roman settlement.”

His colleague Peter Watkin made the find while conducting a watching brief on the building of a car park as part of a visitor centre project on the medieval village at Welby Church.

He is now organising a dig on Sunday and Monday in a bid to find out more and he is calling on the public to get involved.

He said: “This is what is called a geophysical resistance survey and it will consist of digging discreet evaluation trenches

“Anyone who wants to take part can come along and help and hopefully we can find out a few more answers about the site.”

Rev Kevin Ashby, team rector of Melton, which includes Welby Church, said: “When I first moved to Melton eight years ago I had no idea all of this archaeological work would be going on.

“I will be watching with great interest.”