A Roman statuette found last week has been described as one of the most impressive archaeological finds in the history of Long Melford.
John Nunn discovered the headless figurine of the Roman goddess Venus, with John Broughton and Kenneth Dodd, fellow volunteers from Long Melford Heritage Centre.
“I’ve been involved in digs for years but this is one of the best finds in the village,” said Mr Nunn.
“We’ve found lots of Roman pottery but we weren’t expecting to find a Roman statuette.”
After asking and being given permission to dig at a private residence in the south of the village, the trio recently spent two and half days at the site.
“John handed what looked like two lumps of chalk to me,” said Mr Nunn, cofounder of the heritage centre and Babergh district councillor for the village.
“One was just chalk and the other appeared to be also, but it had a shape to it.
“After removing some of the crust we saw it was this figurine.”
Faye Minter from the Suffolk County Council archaeological unit in Bury St Edmunds has been to examine the finds and the statuette is likely to be examined further before becoming one of the village heritage centre’s most precious treasures.
On the question of its possible value Mr Nunn said: “It doesn’t have a great intrinsic value but it is quite a scarce object in the archaeological sense.”
Although the trio will not be sharing a great fortune following their find, all three were delighted with the results of the dig.
As well as the statuette they found a Roman iron knife and a piece of Roman cement flooring called opus caementicium, along with in excess of 300 pieces of Roman pottery.
This included examples of Roman Samian pottery with decoration on it.
It was by chance the volunteers got to dig at the location at all, with one of the members related to the home owner.
He asked if they could carry out an archaeological digs before the homeowner had landscaping work done in the garden.
“The heritage centre does quite a few digs round the year,” said Mr Nunn.
“We just thought it would be another Roman rubbish tip, if anything at all.
“It was a Roman rubbish tip, but some high status rubbish.”
Mr Nunn hopes that these impressive finds may lead to other homeowners allowing digs to take place at their properties, with a high quantity of Roman finds coming from within the village.
In June the heritage centre volunteers will be carrying out a radar survey of the village to try to find undiscovered roads and buildings.
Access Cambridge Archaeology will also be returning in July for another archaeological dig, this time on The Green.