'Brideshead' for Roman elite found at Scarborough housing estate

Craig Simpson
·2-min read
Rare Roman remains have been discovered in Scarborough
Rare Roman remains have been discovered in Scarborough

A Roman “Brideshead” has been unearthed at a planned Scarborough housing estate, and archaeologists believe it may be the first and only one of its kind.

The building complex dating from the period of Roman rule, between 43 AD and 410 AD, consists of a circular room with adjoining chambers built to a design “never seen before in Britain”.

Archaeologists believe the complex which functioned like a “gentlemen's club” for the wealthy elite could also be the first of its kind to be discovered within the entire former Roman Empire.

The site in North Yorkshire was assessed by Historic England after it became clear ruins discovered on the Keepmoat Homes housing development were more significant than first thought.

Keith Emerick, inspector of ancient monuments at Historic England, told The Daily Telegraph: “It could be a bit like Brideshead Revisited, like a modern stately home with the equivalent of a chapel attached."

The Flyte family own a chapel within their property at Brideshead in Evelyn Waugh's novel.

“We’re working to ascertain a potentially religious function of the building," Mr Emerick added.

The sit may have functioned like the Flyte family home in Brideshead Revisited 
The sit may have functioned like the Flyte family home in Brideshead Revisited

“But it would have belonged to someone of high status, in what was a highly productive area of the empire, and it would likely have been quite luxurious.

“It’s a kind of Roman spa and gentlemen’s club where you can imagine people gathering.”

Inquiries have been made with leading classical historians, and experts have so far found no similar design to the circular building with its attached antechambers in the territory once ruled by the Romans.

Mr Emerick said: “The site seems to be without parallel, it’s certainly a first in Britain. It’s a very significant find.”

While work is ongoing to establish the potential use of the site, it is thought the central circular room may have functioned as an atrium into which guests would enter.

The area was a rich agricultural region during Roman rule, and the site would have provided views across the local land being worked.