Historically important archives return to the county

Culture and tourism

10 May 2024

Shelves full of cardboard boxes containing archives

The Northamptonshire Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC) have recently completed the move of archaeological archives from a major Roman villa, alongside prehistoric and iron age finds, into the state of the art facilities at the Chester House Estate.

The archives were excavated between 1984 - 1991 from Stanwick Lakes and had been stored by Historic England at their store in Portsmouth.

The archives consisted of over 3000 boxes of archaeological material including 2.5 tonnes of Roman pottery and 3750 Roman coins. The team also received 16 partially reconstructed pieces of Roman mosaic and 280 large pieces of Roman sculpture. Highlights also include a Roman pot with a gladiator painted on it and figurine of a frog.

Also found during the excavations at Stanwick were prehistoric finds including beaker pots, jets and a pristine example of a flint dagger which research has shown was unused before it was buried within a grave.

This is the first time the objects have returned to the county since they were excavated and are now publicly accessible to researchers. It is intended that selected objects will be loaned to Stanwick Lakes for a display in their museum in early 2025. 

It is also anticipated that objects will go on display at the Discover Northamptonshire hub at Rushden Lakes and the ARC offer weekly, free tours so visitors can see some of the excellent objects from Stanwick alongside the rest of the archive.

It is fantastic news that these historically important items have been able to return to the county and their new home is so close to where the items were originally excavated - it truly is a full circle moment.

The ARC is a fantastic asset that ensures our history is preserved for future generations, and the team on site work extremely hard on projects like this as well as making sure, where possible, that the artefacts can be publicly accessible.
Cllr Helen Howell, Deputy Leader of North Northamptonshire Council and Executive Member for Sport, Leisure, Culture and Tourism
The excavations at Stanwick Lakes were described as nationally and historically significant, and having the artefacts returned to the county is a real milestone moment.

Being able to display items in our Heritage Museum, on the site on which they were found, is a wonderful and engaging way for us to be able to tell the story of the area’s rich heritage and history and share that with our visitors. 

We have a great partnership with the ARC who have loaned us various items for display, so being a part of this journey is incredibly exciting.
Becky Gill, Heritage Manager at Stanwick Lakes

The move of the artefacts was funded by a grant from Historic England and is the result of a three year project with teams from both the ARC and Historic England involved.

We are pleased to see the final boxes from the Stanwick and Irthlingborough Archive being deposited in the state-of-the-art Archaeological Resource Centre (ARC) at the Chester House Estate. These storage facilities are invaluable to the Northamptonshire community and researchers. The scale of the excavations and the quality of the Prehistoric and Roman material is remarkable and makes this collection highly significant. Historic England’s grant towards this project will help to ensure that people will better understand and engage with our shared heritage.Claire Tsang, Archaeological Archives Principal at Historic England

The ARC is run by North Northamptonshire Council in partnership with West Northamptonshire Council. More information about the ARC is available on the Chester House Estate website.