Intruders damage unique Roman villa site in England during break-in

Intruders trespassed the archaeological site in North-East England only days after its excavation. Image: MAP Archaeological Practice

In England, intruders damaged the site of a recently-discovered Roman villa overnight. Experts regard the estate as “the most important Roman discovery of the last decade” in the UK because it might be the first of its kind. Because of its archaeological value, police believe metal detectorists decided to enter the site illegally.

On the morning of 15 April, archaeologists discovered damaged fences and parts of the land and warned the police. “Sadly, heritage crime can cause huge damage to assets of great historical interest”, a North Yorkshire Police spokesperson told BBC News. “The cost to communities of heritage crime is often immeasurable, resulting in the loss of artefacts to future generations.”

Serious crime

Keith Emerick, an inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, mentioned the organisation would work with the police to find out more about the break-in. “As the archaeological potential of the area has been publicly known for some time, it is a hotspot for illegal metal detecting”, he stated.

The excavation site pictured from above. Image: Historic England/PA

Historic England believed the intruders committed a “serious crime” by trespassing and possibly stealing artefacts. They could face charges of theft and criminal damage. For now, security around the site has been increased. 

One of a kind

A housing development agency discovered the buildings outside of Scarborough, a seaside town in North-East England, reported The Guardian. Excavations uncovered a large tower structure, several rooms and a bathhouse. Archaeologists involved established these structures were designed by high-quality architects and built by excellent craftsmen. The settlement could be the first of its kind in the UK and possibly the whole Roman empire.

While excavations and research continue, experts believe the complex served as an estate for a wealthy landowner. Later, it could have become a religious sanctuary or gentlemen’s club. The question of why Romans built this site far away from other Roman centres on the British isle remains unanswered for now.

Source: BBC News and The Guardian

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