Everything nails down for a certainty that they stumbled across a two thousand year old highway rest stop, used by the Romans. The only thing that archaeologists didn’t bring back from this spectacular site is one of those nefarious pecan logs. It’s amazing how much it resembles those in use today.
Roadside rest complex
An ancient Roman version of a truck stop or roadside rest facility was uncovered recently in Hertfordshire, England. Along with the equivalent of a gas station and convenience store, they dug up a whole hoard of artifacts “showing it was once a thriving commercial center.”
The find which experts are calling “once in a lifetime,” was made where they plan to put in a new soccer field at a local park.
Even back in literally “year 1,” travelers needed a place to stop for food, fuel and rest. A team of archaeologists were called in to check out the land carefully for historical objects before they ripped it up with bulldozers.
They have to do that everywhere in Europe because of the rich history of regions densely populated for eternity.
Andrew Greef, from Oxford Archeology is thrilled to announce the news. “It’s quite like a services,” the expert notes. His team excavated the site. “You’d have been able to stop. Everything would have been available for you at the roadside.”
The rest stop “may have included an inn providing refreshments, a blacksmith, and a temple to cater for travelers’ religious needs.” What more could you ask for?
A treasure in Roman coins
Some of the most interesting artifacts discovered are more than 300 “Roman coins dating back to the reign of Nero, as well as metal items, weighing scales, and pots for transporting goods.” The rest stop site sits near the modern town of Chipping Warden.
They think they found a temple which accounts for other things they dug up. Objects like “cremation urns, gaming pieces, shackles, and a snake-head brooch.”
From what they inventoried, the pros are convinced that the “settlement was established in about 400 BC when it was made up of more than 30 roundhouses, but that it greatly expanded during the Roman era around 300-400 AD, with new stone buildings and roads.”
More evidence of trade and commerce indicates it was a rest stop.
Greef thinks “you’re looking at some kind of stopover point or something associated with supply and trade, rather than just your average settlement.” It helps that they found the road bed. “The intact road itself has been unearthed too, while a series of cellars has been excavated coming right up to its edge.” Perfect for a rest stop. “We’re positioned almost halfway between Roman Colchester and St. Albans.” That means “we’re on a major Roman route, Stane Street, and it’s just about a good day’s march from St Albans.”
Another point in favor of stopping travelers to separate them from their money is the fact “it’s also at a river crossing, which is a strategic location, and they would have been utilizing the River Stort for transporting goods and materials, so you’re essentially at a crossroads.“