Is Upwell site of a Roman fort?

editorial image

A former March man believes he could have discovered the remains of a Roman fort in Fenland and is hoping his find could lead to a major archaeological excavation.

Greg Owen, a former Neale-Wade School pupil, now lives in Norway and works for a firm with links to mapping and it was while at work he was examining aerial images of his former homeland when he spotted signs of a Roman fort in the Upwell area.

“I could see there was a double ditch, which is a clear indication that the area was once occupied by a Roman fort. I started looking at images of sites where forts had already been discovered and it only heightened my suspicions,” explained Greg.

He was so convinced by what he was seeing that he arranged to carry out a field walk with the local farmer to see what he could unearth.

As a result Greg picked up decorated (Samian) pottery, window glass and other remnants of pottery and roof tiles.

The finds only added to Greg’s conviction and he contacted Eberhard Sauer, professor at Edinburgh University, as well as the local archaeology group Fenarch and both Cambridgeshire and Norfolk county archaeology teams.

The professor agreed with Greg that the double ditches, with the rounded corners, pointed to the site being home to an undiscovered Roman fort.

Other findings also indicated a settlement had grown up around the fort and Greg is convinced the site could be the city of Duroliponte, which is listed in the Antonine Itinerary - a register of stations and distances along various routes and roads of the Roman empire and also containing directions on how to get from one to another.

Duroliponte is currently assigned to Cambridge, although no evidence of a Roman fort has ever been uncovered in the city, which is why Greg believes it is actually on his site at Upwell.

Despite all his hard work and the deluge of evidence Greg was unable to convince the county archaeologists to carry out geophys work on the site and so he paid out £2,100 to have a geophys survey done. The survey added further to Greg’s conviction and he is hoping that the professionals will now step in and carry out further work on the site.

“I believe that more work needs to be carried out before it is too late. This could be a significant find. Britain’s Roman history is still sketchy and this find could prove invaluable,” said Greg.

The last discovery of Roman remains was at Stonea in the 1980s when the late Dr Tim Potter, also a former March man, discovered a Roman settlement including a tower dating back to Hadrian’s era.Dr Potter was also responsible for finding a Roman fort at Grandford Corner in March in the 1950s.

A spokesman for Norfolk County Council, who owns the land in question at Upwell, said: “Various surveys of the site have been done by FenArch and Greg Owen, which we’ve recently received. They’ll be added to the Norfolk Historic Environment Record and we’ll go through them in some detail and make an assessment about what this tells us about the site.”