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Mud flies as Time Team dig into the past

PUBLISHED: 12:24 11 April 2003 | UPDATED: 13:43 03 March 2010

PARTS of a Roman villa buried beneath an Ipswich housing estate have been uncovered thanks to a team of TV archaeologists.

Channel Four's Time Team have spent the past three days excavating the villa in the Castle Hill area.

PARTS of a Roman villa buried beneath an Ipswich housing estate have been uncovered thanks to a team of TV archaeologists.

Channel Four's Time Team have spent the past three days excavating the villa in the Castle Hill area.

Although parts of it have been unearthed, large segments of the villa have yet to be discovered.

Various walls of the building and evidence of an under-floor heating system have been found but much of it is still a mystery.

Time Team archaeologist Phil Harding said: "We still don't know how big it is but what we do know is that there are not many bigger sites in Suffolk so the fact there is one here is important."

Richard Cane, assistant producer of the show, added: "Just because we haven't found it all, it doesn't mean it isn't here.

"It's got the potential to be the biggest Roman discovery in Suffolk. It just needs someone to do more work in the future."

The excavation of the remains saw a string of gardens in Tranmere Grove dug up as the search broadened, although each one will all be returned to its former state.

Show presenter Tony Robinson joked: "I really love the Time Teams when we get to dig people's gardens up and so to dig up eight gardens in one show is beyond my wildest dreams.

He added: "We knew there was a Roman villa around here but we couldn't find it and we spent the first one and a half days thinking we would never find anything.

"It was a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack but eventually we did find something and then the rest of it began to take shape."

Mr Harding praised the homeowners for allowing the team to dig up their gardens.

He said: "The homeowners have been absolutely magnificent. I don't think there's anybody who hasn't allowed us to do at least some work.

"We've dug a lot of trenches and some have found nothing but that's good because it means you know where it is and where it isn't."

A record of the discoveries will be logged to register the location of the villa for future excavations.

The show will be broadcast between January and March 2004.


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