IMPORTANT finds dating back to the Iron Age and Roman period have been uncovered at the site of a new bypass to be built as part of the Hinkley C project.

Archaeologists working at the site of the Cannington bypass revealed their discoveries to local residents on Thursday when EDF Energy and Somerset County Council invited local stakeholders to take a look.

The dig is being carried out at the site of a planned Cannington bypass which will be built to help serve the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Experts from the dig team were on hand to guide residents through the finds, which included remains of a substantial stone building dating from Roman times with underfloor heating and traces of painted wall plaster.

Remains of a prominent building dating from around the 2nd to 3rd Centuries AD and traces of Iron Age buildings were also found at the site.

Bob Croft, Somerset’s county archaeologist, said: “What we have found surviving here are some of the most complete Roman buildings in West Somerset. Dating from around 200 AD, such Roman buildings are relatively uncommon here.

“So this is a rare opportunity to record and understand part of West Somerset's Roman history.”
Once the dig is completed, the careful work of cleaning, identifying and interpreting the finds and other evidence will begin. 

A report will then be produced and the special finds and archives deposited at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.

Cllr David Hall, deputy leader of Somerset County Council, said: “This is a fascinating and exciting find that expands our knowledge of Somerset's rich history. Development such as this bypass helps drive archaeology as we simply wouldn't have had the opportunity to see the site today otherwise.

“There is more painstaking work to do in recording and understanding the finds. It is great to think that some will then be incorporated into a replica Roman exhibit being built at Avalon Marshes and available for more people to see.”

A new bypass to the west of Cannington was approved as part of the Development Consent Order for Hinkley Point C to ensure that construction traffic travels around the village once it has been completed.

To enable EDF Energy to start construction of the bypass later this year the company began preparatory works at the site in April, including ecological works, vegetation clearance and archaeological investigations.

David Eccles, of EDF said: “These archaeological works, along with ecological activity earlier this year, signal preparations are well underway on the bypass project with main construction to start later in 2014.”