In 1984 a metal detector located a lead coffin which revealed two Roman burials. One was a badly crushed inhumation in a plain lead coffin apart from the lid which had bead and reel moulding around the edges. The body was probably a female teenager buried with her arms crossed. By the skull there were two bone hairpins, at the feet and skull were glass vessels. The coffin was contained within an outer wooden coffin, only the nails survived. There were signs that the grave had been lined with timber shuttering, there were traces of two planks lying across the bottom.
The second burial was a badly decomposed inhumation of a child. This had been made at right angles to the foot of the lead coffin. Sherds from one of the vessels in the other grave were associated with it. Pottery and tile scattering has been found in this field.
These two burials suggested the likely existence of a fairly prosperous Roman villa with its own cemetery. Ref:http://unlockingessex.essexcc.gov.uk/
In 2003, the FLHS conducted an archaeological fieldwalk and recorded significant quantities of Roman pottery, brick and tile concentrated in the NE corner of the field.
In June 2015 following geophysical surveys by David and Aline Black, work began on Phase One of the site to the west of the burials. 16 trenches were opened as the year progressed and in June 2016 it was decided to focus on the area around the bath house and close other trenches. The report for Phase One can be found here.
Phase Two is being finished off with members of Colchester Archaeological Group leading the dig with members of Fordham Local History Society supporting them. FLHS is indebited to CAG for their commitment to the dig; they have worked throughout the year in all weathers. The pottery write up is done and post excavation work is ongoing.
In 2018 the skeleton of what we believe was a young Saxon girl was found buried within the Roman building. Carbon dating showed she was buried sometime between 533 AD and 618 AD.
In 2021, a fascinating discovery of a piscina was made. This is a remarkable discovery as there have only been two located, one at Bignor Roman Villa and the other is ours in Fordham.
Although Phase Three started in 2022, we are only now starting to come across archaeology. For example pottery, Roman building material and bone. It also looks like we may have found an Iron Age Roundhouse.
If you are interested in digging with us, please contact Michael Hamiliton-Macy on Mikehmacy@live.co.uk
Here are some photographs which are a small representation of the work that has been done over the last 18 months and some of the finds that have been dug up, of which many are a fine quality. What is certain about the site is that it is multiphased and therefore extremely complex when trying to make sense of it all.
Fordham Local History Society
The Roman past of Fordham is an extremely important part of our village. Take a good look at Fordham Parish Church, you will soon discover Roman brick and tile in the fabric of the building, so possibly suggesting a substantial Roman building close by. Suggested by many as a Roman villa, the archaeologists working on the site would prefer to keep their options open to this suggestion.The following information can be found in more detail on Colchester Heritage website.