The Romans

A Roman road diverged towards Dorchester from the Fosseway at Ilchester, and a major part of today’s Larkhill Road, Yeovil, follows the section that passed close to the present town.

From the middle of the eighteenth century, Roman burials, pottery, and coins have been unearthed near to its course. It was still possible at the beginning of the twentieth century to discern the line of the road from Larkhill Farm to Rustywell on Hendford Hill and beyond via a still existing lane which emerges on to the Dorchester Road.

In 1916 a large hoard of Roman coins came to light during the laying of a water main to the site of the present Westland Road, and the following year an exploratory excavation was carried out by Alderman W.R.E. Mitchelmore on land bought by the Town Council for housing development. Dr. (later Sir) Mortimer Wheeler inspected the site in 1925 and, following his report, a full-scale excavation on a two acre area followed in 1927 and 1928.

This was conducted by Dr. C.A. Ralegh Radford and disclosed thirty rooms lying on a slight ridge surrounded on three sides by streams. The northern range consisted of a dwelling area divided by a passage; on the east lay another dwellinghouse containing a large hall with smaller rooms, fronted by a verandah, and a bath suite adjoining. The southern range, less well-built, consisted of a series of rooms, a cellar and a large thatched barn. The remaining, western, side showed evidence of a colonnade opening on to a road, while a lesser road lay to the south.

A large quantity of Roman pottery was recovered, together with household objects of iron, and below the level of Roman building, a rough stone hearth, iron arrowheads, pottery and flint flakes, pointed to the site having been occupied in the early Iron Age.