WANSTEAD Park will echo to the sound of digging and scraping this weekend when dozens of archeologists descend on the site to try and uncover the secrets of a long lost Roman villa.
Dozens of Amateur sleuths from the West Essex Archeological Group (WEAG) have been given exclusive permission to excavate part of the densely wooded green space, which is all that remains of the former Wanstead House estate.
The four day-long dig, which begins on Friday, is the biggest of its kind ever held in the park and will involve the excavation of a 20 sq metre trench to reveal more about the 2,000 Roman building thought to lie buried in the area.
The event comes just weeks after the Guardian revealed the discovery of ornate Roman tiles in the park by archeologist Richard Bond, which he believes are fragments of the villa’s once magnificent mosaic floor.
Ralph Potter of the Wanstead Parklands Community Project said the dig , which forms part of the Festival of British Archeology, is being held after a series of ‘anomolies’ were found during a recent geological survey.
He said: “The excavation will take place in the area behind the food kiosk near The Temple.
“We have found alot of Roman material around there, including heating tiles, roof tiles and wall plaster.
“We have pinpointed the area for the dig after examining it with ground penetrating radar, a magnetometer and earth resistance measurements.”
Mr Potter said hopes of finding the floor of the villa in tact were slim given the extensive landscaping work carried out in the 18th century, but believes that other, even earlier treasures may be uncovered.
He said: “Although the historical records suggest Wanstead’s Roman villa was particularly impressive no clear indication of its location has emerged.
“Although evidence of Roman occupation is sparse, finds from a trial excavation in 2008 suggest much earlier habitation, possibly back as far as the late Bronze Age.”
Visitors are invited to watch the archeologists at work this Saturday and Sunday.
There will also be a range of family fun activities on offer at the free event, which runs from 10am to 5pm on both days.
Visitors should assemble at The Temple.
For more information on the Festival of British Archeology visit: wansteadpark.org.uk