The villa complex had been found on January 22, 1957, due West of the church on the Burgemeester Wallerweg. This was no surprise, because earlier stones from Roman buildings had been found in the church cemetary wall, and archaeologists expected to find a Roman building close by. The old church went back to at least the 9th century, and possibly showed the same alignment as the remains of the building that soon came to light.
oldest remains on the site dated back to the Middle Iron
Age (c. 500 BC), showing there had been almost continious
occcupation on this higher area between the rivers.
Remains of the Late Iron Age had been replaced by a
building from the Early Roman period, the first of three
phases. Phase 1 (50-75 AD)was a wooden building,
measuring 26.5 by 6.8 m. A second wooden building (phase
2) was dated to the early 2nd century. The phase 3
building was of stone and had been built c. 1150-175 AD.
For these parts, the building was quite luxurious with a
hypocaust, windows with glass and wall painting, not to
mention a porticus. The building had therefore a
'real Roman' appearance and is likely to have been the
home of an important man, leading a large agrarian
community that most probably produced food for the Roman
fort of Fectio.
Forty years later, the outlines of the villas were laid out in the pavement of the Wallerweg. And a small part of this area was planned to be dug up again, 50 years after being sealed.
However, things were not to go as planned. Despite being consulted and having concented months before, the ROB (state board for archaeological research) at the last moment refused permission. So the dig was cancelled! We turned up anyway, to catch the attention of the passers-by and to make a patrol across the market, raising eyebrows all around. It worked - we made the front page!
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