Background: Roman Yorkshire

The South Yorkshire region is generally overlooked in terms of Roman occupation and Roman archaeological remains. Heavy industrialisation of certain areas of the county from the post-medieval period onwards has meant that in many places, evidence pertaining to earlier human activity has been destroyed.

Research by Dorothy Green into the Roman roads of South Yorkshire in the 1950’s, and excavations such as those in the 1940’s at the fortress in Templeborough (supplemented by a handful of small scale developer funded excavations in the 20th and early 21st century) have provided us with some evidence pertaining to human activity in the region during the Roman period. Beyond this, the amount of archaeological evidence for activity in South Yorkshire at this time is extremely limited.

The village of Swinton lies between the Roman Ridge (extending approximately from Wincobank to the north east of Sheffield, to Mexborough) and the south west Roman road from Doncaster (the Roman fort and minor settlement of Danum). Furthermore, a coin hoard dating to the early 3rd century was excavated during the construction of a house cellar in the village in 1853 (Monument SK 49 NW5, Pastscape). Despite these features and findspot, this area is still generally considered to be of little interest or importance during the Roman period.

In June 2014, Mr. Andrew Allen of Swinton, South Yorkshire, notified Elmet Archaeological Services that he had uncovered a number of pottery sherds whilst gardening at home. Preliminary observations found that this exciting new assemblage comprised approximately 90 pottery sherds, including high status fabrics such as Samien ware, traditional cooking wares and rusticated pottery, as well as possible metal and glass working waste products.

The Project

The “Unlocking Swinton’s Roman Past” project intends to conduct full investigation into the character of the archaeological deposits uncovered in Andrew’s garden. We aim to discover more about the people inhabiting Swinton during this time period, and shed light on any activities they were partaking in. This will allow us to fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge about a geographic region which currently offers little physical evidence of Roman occupation.

The current funding target will fund a 1 week excavation, and also create a post-excavation report. If we exceed our target, we will fund specialist analysis of any finds that are uncovered during the excavation.

We also hope that the results of this project will help us put together a second, larger community project, investigating archaeological deposits in other areas of the village.

How do I join in?

You and your friends can help support this project by buying rewards and helping to spread the news about the project. The larger the reward you purchase, the more involved you can become in the project. By contributing to our project at any level, you will automatically receive access to daily updates about our work and discoveries, via our blog. Those of you purchasing higher tier rewards (£70 or more), will be given the opportunity to physically help us uncover the site and make discoveries of your own! Our friendly, expert staff will teach you all the facets of archaeological excavation and recording, providing all training and instruction necessary for you to conduct high quality archaeological investigation.

Please note, this excavation archaeological excavation will take place from Monday 6th – Friday 10th October (weather permitting). All places on the excavation are limited, and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis, and are only for participants aged over 16 years. 

What do I do?

Pick a reward from the list and purchase it! Please remember to tell your friends and family about our project. You can also help us by sharing this crowdfunding page on social media, e.g. by Facebook and Twitter. The more people who get involved and contribute to the project, the more work we will be able to do.

What happens after I have purchased a reward?

Once you’ve paid for your reward, you will receive an email from us thanking you for your contribution. Once the funding window closes we will begin writing our blog, and also send out merchandise such as mugs and t-shirts.

If you have purchased a place on our excavation, we will contact you immediately to arrange the date. For anyone joining us for one day, places will be assigned on a first come, first served basis. Please note, all places on the excavation are limited.

Other benefits such as the project report, will be emailed or posted to contributors once it has been written and finalised.

How do I get in touch with Elmet?

At Elmet, we love hearing from people who want to get involved. If you’d like to get in touch, please email us at We’ll be sure to get back to you as soon as we can! You can also find out more about us on our website at, join our facebook group, or follow us on Twitter (@ElmetArch).

Come and join in the fun!