Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Rare Roman camp discovered in West Dorset

TRACES of a Roman camp have been discovered near Sherborne in West Dorset.

Aerial photographs taken earlier this summer revealed three sides of a lightly built defensive enclosure in a barley field near Bradford Abbas.

Marks showed up through the crop because the long hot days of June had parched the ground.

The Roman camp discovered near Bradford Abbas in West Dorset. Photograph copyright English Heritage.

English Heritage say the camp provided basic protection for Roman soldiers on manoeuvres in the first century AD.

It’s one of only four discovered in the south west of England.

Aerial photography was developed as a technique to uncover archaeological secrets by OGS Crawford before World War Two.

You can read more about him and Dorset by clicking here.

English Heritage say they were lucky to avoid the effects of the Icelandic ash which grounded thousands of other flights, but not their Cessnas.

Damian Grady, English Heritage Senior Investigator based in Swindon, said: “Fortunately the piston-powered Cessnas used by aerial archaeologists were not affected by the ash, so it was easier to undertake planned flights inside airspace around Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Bristol airports.  

“Promising signs started to emerge in late May when the dry conditions had started to reveal cropmarks on well drained soils, especially river gravels and chalk in the East and South East of England. By June it became clear that the continuing dry conditions would produce good results across most of the country. We then targeted areas that do not always produce cropmarks, such as clay soils, or have seen little reconnaissance in recent years due to recent wet summers or busy airspace.

“Unfortunately July saw deterioration in the weather which reduced the amount of flying we could do and the cropmarks started to disappear just before the harvest got underway.

“It will take some time to take stock of all the sites we have photographed, but we expect to discover several hundred new sites across England.”