Discoveries at Broxtowe

THE amount of pottery discovered was amazing, and requires a careful classifying by some expert in this subject. Samian ware is well represented, much of it being of a very high artistic type. The glaze, colour and texture are of the best, but unfortunately the finds are very fragmentary. Many pieces stamped with the potter's name or mark were found, and so far as it is at present ascertainable, the date for the production of this ware found at Broxtowe ranges from about 30 A.D. to 70 AD. or early Vespasian.

I have hopes that Mr. Adrian Oswald (who was the first to suggest the true character of the site) will be able to give a studied account of the pottery found at Broxtowe.

Heavier and coarser kinds of pottery were found in abundance, including portions of several mortars and cooking pots. Vases of a dark coloured rustic ornamented Mare were the most common. Flagons of light grey colour with reeded neck and handle were found, also the remains of several amphorae, large vessels for holding wine or oil, with a rounded base, pointed, enabling them to be tilted in order to pour out their contents.

Bronze skellet.
Bronze skellet.

Bronze handle and bronze dolphin.

Bronze Articles

Thirty or more bronze fibula or brooches have been found, of which no two are exactly alike.

They belong to the first 70 years of our era, and provide a very typical group of these much used and useful ornaments. Of other bronze objects there is a great variety—buckles, pins, studs, ungent spoons or ear picks, &c. Perhaps two of the most outstanding are a heavily engraved handle, with swan-neck extensions, which no doubt was attached to a large vase, and a well preserved bronze skillet, silvered or tinned on the inside. This has the name of the maker stamped on the handle, ALBANVS. So far I have been unable to trace the place or time when this worker in bronze lived and laboured, but the type of this skillet is undoubtedly middle first century, end it was probably made in Italy.

Origin of Settlement

Is it possible from the study of this settlement site and the objects found, to come to any conclusion as to its origin and fate, or infer as to the character of its inhabitants?

The period within which almost all the material for our consideration seems to fall, comes between the years 40 A.D. to 72 A.D. The Roman conquest of Britain commenced in 43 A.D. The south and eastern portions were soon subjugated, as far as Devonshire in the South, and Lincoln in the North. A line of forts was made along what we now know as the Fosse Way. North and west of this no further progress was attempted until 61 A.D., when an attempt was made to subdue Wales, but the insurrection of the Iceni under their Queen Boudicca (or Boadicea) caused the Romans to hurry from Wales to quell the uprising, which they did, slaying 60,000 of the British. The next ten years were spent in attempt? to pacify the conquered people, and it was not until A.D.71, when Vespasian was Emperor, that a pretext was found to proceed with the conquest of the North. Cerialis, the Roman General, then went north of the Fosse Way into Yorkshire, subduing all on the way, and built a fort in the heart of the country of the Brigantes, near York. To me there seems to be a complete end to the Broxtowe settlement at this time, a total lack of material to imply its existence after 71 or 72 A.D In the same manner I cannot find evidence to require its origin to have been earlier than 43 A.D. the time of the Roman invasion.

Spears and sickle.
Spears and sickle.

The type of ornaments and utensils found are such as belong to a British culture supposed not to extend north of Northamptonshire. Is it a likely assumption to look upon this settlement as being made by refugees from farther south, who fled before the Roman arms in 43 A.D., and crossing the Trent felt safe, and founded a new home, but bringing the culture of the south with them?

They again fled, 23 years later, before their foes, leaving Broxtowe deserted. If we cannot accent this, which to me appears a very probable explanation, then there is the alternative suggestion that trade and commerce between Roman Gaul and Britain penetrated into the East Midlands, and that a culture existed here differing very little from that of Kent or Surrey.

There is another view we may advance. Was Broxtowe an earlier British settlement than the date suggested, and were its inhabitants so impoverished and barbarous that they possessed little in the form of ornaments or utensils of a durable character until the advance of the Romans in 43 A D brought trade and commerce near to their abode, and by some means or other they became possessed of the varied assortment of articles which we now find within the confines of their village.

Whatever the date of its origin may be, there seems nothing to prove that Broxtowe survived the conquest of the north or that it ever became a Romano-British village.

Site of Broxtowe Old Hall

During the Laying out of roads and the making of drains and foundations on the site of the old Broxtowe Hall, careful watch was kept to see if anything was revealed which would throw light upon this ancient hamlet, which has given its name to one of our Parliamentary divisions, and was one of the Wapentakes of the County.

Some masonry of an ecclesiastical type was dug up on the N.E. side of the Hall, no doubt being the foundation of a small church which existed there from medieval times until the 18th century, when, owing to decrease of population it was pulled down.

When making a trench for drainage where the front garden of the Hall had been, more than 20 skulls were found of men. women and children, with other human remains, but no sign of grave furniture or ornaments. The bones appeared to be 400 years old. The soil was black as though it had been turned about continually, and the bones were often grouped promiscuously. This drain had evidently cut through the old burying ground for 30 yards.

Nothing whatever was found relating to Saxon times. Pottery with the rude greenglaze of the 14th and 15th century was the earliest of the discoveries.