Aerial view

OA East’s excavation of a Romano-Celtic temple-mausoleum near Corby has won Current Archaeology’s prestigious Rescue Project of the Year award for 2022. Oxford Archaeology East uncovered a densely populated Late Romano-British industrial landscape within a Roman villa estate outside Corby, Northamptonshire. These works, undertaken as part of a wider scheme of archaeological investigation ahead of the Priors Hall Park development (a mixed-use urban extension to Corby that includes the construction of 5,000 new homes), revealed that this area was far more significant than previous excavations had suggested.

Shedding dramatic light on the site’s Roman roots, the discoveries have been nothing short of spectacular: a panoply of features providing rare insights into the construction and economic life of a Roman villa, the evolution of industry on the site – and the key discovery was a square limestone building interpreted as a mausoleum, thought to date to the late 2nd to 3rd century. This tomb was later transformed into a tilery, in a dramatic change of purpose.

Voted for by subscribers and members of the public, Current Archaeology’s awards recognise the outstanding contributions to our understanding of the past made by the people, projects, and publications featured in the pages of Current Archaeology over the previous 12 months.

Paddy Lambert, OA East’s Project Officer who supervised the excavation, says “I am truly delighted that we have won such a prestigious award. The archaeology at Priors Hall has the potential to overhaul our understanding of a pivotal time in both regional and national history, and it is heartening to see how this has captured the public imagination. Thanks to all of the people who voted and to all the staff who worked on the site to a standard the Romans themselves would have admired!”

Nick Gilmour, Senior Project Manager at OA East who managed the project, says "I'm so pleased with this award as it recognises the importance of the work done on the site and the effort put in by everyone involved, including those from Urban and Civic who supported us throughout the project, and the late Lesley-Ann Mather who provided invaluable advice and encouragement."

The OA East team have dedicated this award to the memory of Lesley-Ann Mather (1967-2020), Archaeological Advisor for Northamptonshire County Council. She monitored the excavation and was a hugely supportive and enthusiastic advocate for the importance of this site.

The villa itself has now been designated an Archaeological Preservation Area (APA) and, as a significant heritage asset, will be left in situ, kept as a green space that will help to facilitate a shared sense of identity for the modern community who will come to call the site home.