Amateur discovers Roman arena with home-made device

BY DAVID KEYS

Archaeology Correspondent

An amateur archaeologist has discovered a Roman amphitheatre in Norfolk with the help of home-made remote-sensing equipment.

Peter Cott, a retired electrical engineer, found the 1, 900-year-old stone arena by measuring differences in electrical resistance in the ground.

The amphitheatre, near Norwich, was oval and measured up to 80 metres from north to south and up to 70 metres from east to west. It would have accommodated between 5,000 and 10,000 spectators.

The main entrance faced south, while at the northern end there was a short corridor leading to a series of rooms, almost certainly once used to accommodate gladiators and animals waiting to do battle.

The arena itself was about 40 metres long and 34 metres wide and Mr Cott's remote sensing equipment even succeeded in recording part of what was probably its metalled surface.

At each side of the arena there appears to have been a small alcove, probably to house statues of the Roman goddess of retribution, Nemesis.

Mr Cott's survey yielded data, which when processed in a computer, produces the equivalent of an X-ray of what lies beneath the ground. Built in the late 1st or 2nd century AD, the amphitheatre would have been used for gladiatorial contests, fights between animals and men, often convicted criminals, and animal-baiting.

It was constructed just south of the Roman town of Venta Icenorum, of which only the defences still survive. Venta, near the modern village of Caistor St Edmund, was in Roman times the imperially designated purpose- built new capital of the Iceni tribe after its revolt under Boudicca had been crushed by the Roman military.

The site of the ancient town is today owned and managed by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust, in co-operation with whom Mr Cott has been carrying out his work.

Ever since aerial reconnaissance work in 1977, archaeologists had speculated that a dark oval patch visible from the air in a field south of Venta might be the remnants of an amphitheatre. Now Mr Cott's work has proved that the archaeological speculation was well-founded.

The newly discovered Norfolk amphitheatre is one of only 10 known to exist in Britain and was almost certainly built within 100 years of the construction of the Roman empire's greatest amphitheatre, the Colosseum in Rome.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect