The year is 110 AD, Trajan is emperor of Rome, Britain is well within the grip of the Roman Empire. In the Peak District the Romans flock to the small town of Aquae Arnemetiae, now modern Buxton, for the healing quality of its natural springs. On the outskirts a small farmstead is thriving on the limestone scarp of Staden.
Along the path leading to Colt Croft there were numerous paddocks, kilns, and small Roman houses. This was the Roman farm at Staden. To the rear of Colt Croft, further along the path, lie the Romano-British fields. This small slither of land was once an extremely fertile piece of farmland in an area of otherwise extremely acidic soil. They practiced mixed farming, meaning they produced both grains as well as herded cattle and occasionally hunted local deer.
Numerous quernstones were found across the site, these were used for grinding grain into flour for making bread. The remains of many livestock animals such as cows and pigs were found across the site, some even found within the remains of the hearth within the Roman house – so we even know what they ate for lunch!
The Roman farming business was highly profitable, which is shown by the presence of luxury items. Fragments of glassware were found, these glass vessels likely held expensive oils or perfumes. Jewellery such as brooches and rings were also discovered in the Roman house – which was not far from the path you’re on. Fragments of wine amphora were also found.
The Romans were also potty about pottery, which is shown in the various examples found at the site. Some is typical to the Peak District and the East Midlands such as Derbyshire ware, others such as Samian ware originated in Roman Gaul – or the present day south of France. Black Burnished ware was also found.
We were able to date the site from the typology of the pottery, but also from a Mortarium fragment – a type of grinding pot. The Mortarium was stamped with a potters mark, the name of Septuminus, a potter from Chester (or Roman Deva) which dates the context to around 110-130 AD.
Even in a small farmhouse, the Romans didn’t let the cold winter Peak District climate get them down – they simply installed a hypocaust heating system.
To find out more about the excavations and archaeological material from Staden why not read the excavators final report?