Swindon’s past is holding up its future as valuable pieces of Roman history continue to be uncovered on the site of a brand new road.
When built, the Southern Connector Road will provide a link between the New Eastern Villages (NEV) and Commonhead roundabout, close to Great Western Hospital.
Specialist consultants have worked extensively with the County Archaeologist to minimise the impact on any known remains in the area but, during the course of the work so far, a number of new items of archaeological importance have been discovered.
These have been excavated and recorded, in accordance with agreed practices and guidance. Some of the finds including a large rectangular building, a Romano-British trackway and several smaller items such as arrowheads and bone pins have been shared on the social media of both the Council and Headland Archaeology, the contractor leading on the excavation.
Residents can learn more about the local history and the intricacies of the archaeology from the Southern Connector Road site on the Council’s website: www.bit.ly/SSCRArchaeology3
In April, overall costs for the scheme had risen by £4.7m, but to allow for further archaeological discoveries, rising material and labour costs, and ground and ecological constraints, an extra £5.6m has been set aside in contingency funding for the scheme.
The new road, which was due to be finished by this December is now expected to be completed by next summer.
Councillor Gary Sumner, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Strategic Infrastructure, Transport and Planning, said: “We always knew there was a chance we would uncover additional Roman artefacts, despite the careful planning and design of the scheme ensuring the new road avoided the dense known areas of archaeology such as the Roman town of Durocornovium.
“But when you are working in a site such as this archaeology is very difficult to avoid entirely. We therefore have to build in this extra time to complete the scheme to ensure we can deal with any additional finds carefully and sensitively and, of course, we have to mitigate this risk by putting aside appropriate contingency funding. This is also at a time when costs are increasing across the board.
“We will be working extremely hard with the contractor to bring forward the revised completion date, while at the same time continuing to share any important pieces of Swindon’s Roman history as we go.
“I’d like to apologise to residents in Wanborough as it does mean that The Marsh will remain closed for a longer period of time to allow us to finish the scheme.”
The New Eastern Villages is one of the largest greenfield developments in the country. It will consist of 8,000 homes, new schools, employment spaces and community and leisure facilities, as well as accompanying infrastructure like the Southern Connector Road.