On the banks of the Meon – A Saxon settlement and cemetery, and a Roman settlement

First a 4th Century Roman building was discovered in the 1930s

The ancient north-south route running through the Meon Valley was in the 1930s one of the main routes from London to the South coast. In the 1930s sections of the road were re-routed to by-pass villages in the valley. This was done to accommodate increasing amounts of traffic, including military vehicles requiring access to, and from, the channel ports of Portsmouth and Southampton.

When the by-pass was being built a Roman villa or barn-like building, dating from the fourth century AD was discovered on the bank of the river. The site was excavated in the 1980s and a section of the façade of the Roman building was carefully extracted.

Images of the excavation of the façade of a 4th Century Roman building


Discovering a Saxon Settlement & Cemetery

It is not unusual for migrating peoples to choose the established locations of preceding settlers for their preferred settlements. The Romans in the Meon Valley had settled close to Celtic iron-age and bronze-age settlements in the valley and on Old Winchester Hill. When the Romans left Britain in 410AD to defend their empire under threat from the northern Germanic tribes, it did not take long for the Saxons, Angles, Jutes, from what is now Denmark, under pressure from rising sea levels and migrations from the East, to move into the settlements in Britain established by the Romans.

It was not surprising therefore that when excavating the Roman site a Saxon settlement was also discovered. This, and an adjacent Saxon cemetery, were excavated in the 1980s.

The following photographs capture the community’s engagement in the Saxon settlement dig.

The above images in this article are from a scrap-book belonging to the landowners who see themselves as privileged tenants of land that our ancestors have lived on for thousands of years; tenants with a duty to respect and preserve this heritage. Their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience has been a key influence in our being able to get financial, academic and professional support for our quest to bring to life ‘the Story of the Saxons in the Meon Valley’.

The following images are also from their scrap-book.