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Archaeological dig to start at site of Roman villa, Norton Disney, after plans submitted for animal rendering plant




An archaeological dig starts today (Thursday) at a controversial site where developers want to build an animal rendering plant.

Norton Disney’s History and Archaeology Group is starting a new excavation at the site of a Roman villa off Folly Lane using geo-physical detection equipment and will dig trenches to uncover the mystery of a large enclosure feature discovered last September on a geophysics survey.

The archaeology group made a successful application to Historic England in August 2020 to extend the boundaries protecting the site after it was discovered the villa was much bigger than previously thought.

Members of Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group. (45935250)
Members of Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group. (45935250)

The six hectare site was discovered in 1933 and was excavated in 1934 and 1935. Over the years, artefacts and remains have been found dating back as far as the Bronze Age.

In 1989, a bronze figurine of a mounted Roman warrior was uncovered called Mars Thingus. This figurine is now exhibited in the British Museum.

In February, Lincoln Proteins Ltd resubmitted a planning application for an animal rendering plant at Villa Farm after redesigns to accommodate previous planning issues.

The Rider God of Norton Disney, which was unearthed. (41197502)
The Rider God of Norton Disney, which was unearthed. (41197502)

Lincolnshire County Council’s planning committee unanimously refused initial plans in February 2020 following concerns over heritage and location.

There were fears the facility would overshadow the Lancaster Bomber gateway sculpture being built off the A46.

When the plans were originally submitted, there were objections from both local residents and North Kesteven District Council over odour and location. The county council received 1,105 letters of objection.

In February this year, plans were unanimously approved to demolish an existing animal by-products processing plant and build a at the farm on Jerusalem Road in Skellingthorpe, who Lincoln Proteins Ltd also own.

The site of the villa, officially designated a scheduled ancient monument was discovered in 1933. It comprises some six hectares and was excavated in 1934 and 1935.

Over the years, various artefacts and remains have been found around the site dating back as far as the Bronze Age, but perhaps the most important find was made near to the site in 1989 when a bronze figurine of a mounted Roman warrior was uncovered.

Named Mars Thingus, this nationally important figurine is now exhibited in the British Museum

The new dig, which begins today and lasts two days, has the advantage of the latest technology of geo-physical detection equipment and the group will be digging trenches Time Team-style using a digger to uncover the mystery of a large enclosure feature discovered last September on a geophysics survey.

Old aerial photos from 1950s of strange cropmarks here hint at more ancient mysteries too.

Alan Asker, operations manager at Lincoln Proteins, previously said: “Lincoln Proteins remain committed to a project which offers sustainable jobs within the food manufacturing industry, a vital addition to the Lincolnshire economy in times such as these.”



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