In 1965 during excavations for the foundations of glasshouses it was noticed that in some areas the soils were much darker in colour and silt-like. This would often be in ditch-like shallows and within this was found fragments of pottery and roofing tiles.
Realising this might be something of archaeological interest a fellow nurseryman and member of Enfield Archaeological Society was asked to look at the finds. He confirmed that these finds were Roman and dated between 300-400 A.D.
He then passed this information on to Waltham Abbey Historical Society. The finds to date were given on permanent loan to Waltham Abbey Museum, now Epping Forest District Museum.
Contact was maintained with Waltham Abbey Historical Society. When further excavation works were carried out the sites were prepared for them to carry out supervised archaeological digs. These took place in 1973, 1974 and 1975. In total these digs found 82 pieces of building material, mainly roofing tile but also some pieces of daub, several with wattle impressions, one piece of glass from a clear greenish vessel, four coins and 533 pottery sherds.
In 1978 the result of these digs was published in Essex Archaeology and History, Volume 10 and was titled ‘Excavation of a Late Roman Site at Sewardstone Hamlet, Waltham Holy Cross, Essex, 1968-75’ by Rhona M. Huggins. The report concluded the site had a limited period of use, probably being established in the late Roman period as a farmstead and abandoned towards the end of the 4th century. Shallow gullies could have enclosed the farmstead and have provided drainage for a building or buildings of timber with wattle-and-daub infilling and tiled roof.
Two further digs took place at the nursery, the next in September 1981 and the last in September 1985.
We like to thank the following with the help given and permission to publish photographs:
Epping Forest District Museum (EFDM);
Waltham Abbey Historical Society.