Gardener discovers Roman remains

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A reluctant gardener who finally agreed to knock down a shed after 25 years of pleading by his wife has discovered it was standing on important Roman remains dating back to at least 400AD.

Brian Harrison found the shed had been standing on a Second World War air-raid shelter and asked local historians if they wanted to preserve it. They visited his home in the aptly-named Roman Avenue in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, and discovered a cobbled area below the shelter and his lawn.

Experts believe the find may prove the ancient settlement in the area was twice as big as originally thought.

Mr Harrison, a 70-year-old retired journalist, said: "My wife Yvonne has been trying for the last 25 years to get me to move the garden shed but I have resisted it – until now. When he found the air-raid shelter, Mr Harrison called the local archaeological group.

But he was sceptical when they used dowsing rods to discover there were ancient Roman remains below. However when the group dug more holes across his once respectable lawn, Mr Harrison was convinced.

Brenda Ludvigsen, secretary of Northern Archaeological Group, said: "It is a really exciting find ... We unearthed a good quality cobbled area that ran next to a Roman house and fragments of pottery, flint and a ball – probably from a slingshot." Mr Harrison added: "I'm pleased they have found something and it is very exciting." The group now plans to carry out more excavations at Mr Harrison's home.

Chester-le-Street was an important stopping-off point for Roman soldiers marching from York to Hadrian's Wall and had its own fort.