The discovery in 2004 of a Roman period settlement during archaeological investigations prior to the development of Faverdale East Business Park was highly unexpected given the paucity of remains of this date in the Darlington area. An unenclosed farmstead was established at the site around the late first century AD and the quantity of South Gaulish samian
from this period indicates that from its earliest inception Faverdale was a settlement of some standing. A remarkable discovery was that of a small stone two-room building, furnished with a hypocaust system and decorated with painted wall plaster, set within a substantial rectilinear ditched enclosure constructed in the second century AD. The economy was based on arable and pastoral agriculture and a network of associated interconnected enclosures was recorded over an extensive area. Following a period of abandonment during the third century, a large stone structure was constructed in the late fourth century activity demonstrating activity at Faverdale as the Roman period drew to a close.
Faverdale has provided fascinating evidence for social and cultural change within a remarkably short space of time after the occupation of the frontier zone by the Roman military. Many of the second-century artefactual assemblages and some individual objects were particularly unusual in the context of a northern ‘rural’ settlement, handmade pottery continued to be used at Faverdale in traditional jar forms along with new forms inspired by Roman vessels, and the conclusion drawn is that the settlement was engaged in trade with the Roman military or vici markets. The work adds significantly to emerging evidence suggesting that far from being a landscape of distinct native farms and military stations, life in the northern frontier zone was a much more dynamic and varied experience for the local population. The inhabitants of Faverdale seem to have been selecting, rejecting and hybridizing elements of Roman material cultural that were available to them, whilst steadfastly maintaining aspects of their own traditions, material culture and identity.
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