ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the remains of a Roman settlement near York during the construction of a new £6 million pipeline.

Evidence of an ancient bridgehead settlement has been discovered on the banks of the River Nidd at Kirk Hammerton.

Yorkshire Water said the discoveries were made following its decision to build a new pipeline linking its water treatment works at Acomb Landing with the mains network which feeds villages to the west.

A spokeswoman said: “Archaeologists working along the line of the new trunk main discovered that the line of the Roman road – which was always thought to run along the A59 corridor between York and Green Hammerton – may actually have diverged further north.”

Oliver Cooper, of Northern Archaeological Associates, said: “It was common knowledge before we started that the A59 from York to Green Hammerton follows the line of an old Roman road, so there was always a good chance the pipeline would identify further evidence and reveal some interesting finds.

“Surveys suggested the fields adjacent to the main road on the banks of the Nidd would be a good place to focus our work and, although the weather has been a real challenge, we haven’t been disappointed.

“We were finding Roman pottery from the beginning as well as some smaller artefacts which suggest there was a Roman settlement here around 200AD.

“However, perhaps most interestingly, the dig shows the Roman road crossed the Nidd on the line of the old A59 county bridge before diverging from the line we thought it took, to skirt the north east of Green Hammerton.

“The evidence we have also shows there was a settlement bordering the road on the west bank of the river.

“Our finds were not limited to the Roman era.

“There were one or two which suggested the bridgehead was established before the occupation, dating back to the Iron Age.”

He said there was evidence of ditch systems, which suggested there were once fields there linked to a village which was there before the Roman occupation.

Yorkshire Water said that once the pipeline project had been completed and the supply was switched over next spring, softer water from the River Ouse would be pumped from Acomb and then into the distribution network feeding Marton, Whixley, Upper Dunsforth, Little Ouseburn, Great Ouseburn, Thorpe Underwood, Cattal, Hunsingore, Walshford, Kirk Deighton, Green Hammerton, Nun Monkton, Moor Monkton, Rufforth and Hessay.

Spokesman John Bond said the pipeline remained on schedule despite the finds.

“We always knew there was a possibility of some significant archaeological work along the route so that was built into the programme before we started,” he said.