Big Dig discovery makes international news headlines

A discovery by BU archaeology students and lecturers at the Big Dig site, which could rewrite Roman history, received international media coverage.

Five skeletons were found at the site, in Winterborne Kingston, thought to belong to a Roman family – the first time that evidence of a villa and the villa’s occupants have been found in the same location in Britain.

The story has been featured by national newspapers including The Telegraph, The Times and the Mail Online as well as local coverage in the Bournemouth Echo, Blackmore Vale Magazine and the BBC Dorset website.

The story also gained international media appearances – including coverage in Australia and India – as well as a number of industry specific websites. Over 50 BBC radio stations included the news in their hourly bulletins – giving the story wide national exposure.

The widespread media coverage led to a record-breaking Big Dig Open Day – with more than 1,500 members of the public visiting to explore the site and the discoveries.

Speaking to ITV Meridian at the Big Dig site, Paul Cheetham, Senior Lecturer in Archaeological Sciences and co-director of the project, suggested that this is just the start of many more findings to come.

“It’s a fabulous archaeological site, with material going to almost 4,500 years ago through to the end of the Roman period and possibly beyond to the early Dark Ages.

“We could probably dig here for the rest of our lives and still not discover all of the secrets in this part of Dorset.”

The story caught the attention of the British Council, who interviewed international students working on the dig to promote archaeology at BU to an international audience.

One student, Jessica Fangmann, said, “Everyone’s good friends on the dig and I feel like I’m learning the things I’m interested in. I’m so glad I came to the UK and I think this is a really good experience.”

BU’s Big Dig a Big success


A team of archaeologists from Bournemouth University (BU) has uncovered the history that lies beneath rural farmland in Dorset.

Delicate glass leaves, a Roman tea strainer and the remains of ritually deposited animals were just some of the finds unearthed by staff and students as part of the Durotriges Project.

The project, otherwise known as The Big Dig, is an archaeological investigation studying the transition from the late Iron Age to the early Roman period in Winterbourne Kingston, near Bere Regis.

The Big Dig is now in its fifth and final year, and this summer’s excavations discovered a prehistoric settlement, Roman villa and two late Roman longhouses, as well as countless finds from the period, including jewellery and pottery.

Dr Miles Russell, Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at BU, said: “The key thing this year is that much of the evidence is showing what happens after Roman Britain comes to an end.

“We can see how people came to this land, how they cannibalised the villa, ripped everything out of it and made their own life here before the Saxons arrived.”

As well as staff and students from the university, volunteers and schoolchildren visited the site to help out and experience archaeological excavation first hand.

A public open day attracted more than 620 visitors, and around 50 young archaeologists, aged between 8 and 16, visited the site from as far afield as Poole, Salisbury, Southampton and Taunton.

The youngsters, who are members of Young Archaeologists’ Clubs from across the region, took part in the examination of Roman buildings, geophysical survey and finds processing.

Sarah MacNaughton, of the Poole branch of Young Archaeologists’ Club said: “It was brilliant. The youngsters really enjoyed getting their hands dirty and finding things.”

Find out more about The Big Dig