Exploring the Late Ilchester Roman Cemetery and Excavations

Historical Discovery: A Glimpse into the Past

In the early 18th century, William Stuckeley documented the discovery of stone coffins in an area now recognized as the Ilchester Roman Cemetery. This site, following an archaeological survey in 1982, was designated a Scheduled Ancient Monument, protecting it from any development and ensuring its preservation.

The Cemetery’s Rich Heritage

The Ilchester Roman Cemetery is believed to house over 1,500 internments. Among these, six skeletons have been excavated. Five of these remain at the Somerset Heritage Centre, while the sixth, named Faustinia, is a notable specimen. Faustinia was discovered in a lead coffin within a stone sarcophagus, indicating her affluent background. Recent radiocarbon dating, arranged by Mr. Chris Webster from The South West Heritage Trust, reveals a 95% probability that Faustinia lived and died between 250-400 A.D., with a more precise estimate of 70% between 250-350 A.D.

Preservation and Future Plans

In 1996, the site was transferred to the Ilchester Town Trust. This transfer was accompanied by an agreement with English Heritage, now known as Historic England, to fund the repair of various ancient walls within the cemetery. Plans are currently underway to enhance the site, ensuring it meets a standard that reflects its historical significance and makes it a valuable asset for Ilchester.

The Ilchester Roman Cemetery offers a fascinating insight into the town’s ancient past. The ongoing efforts to preserve and enhance the site will help future generations appreciate the rich history buried beneath their feet.

(Credit: Thanks for the contribution above go to Chris Jessop)


Here is a diagrammatic view showing the area of archaeological excavations of Ilchester Roman Cemetery. 

Below, you can see this overlaid onto an aerial view of the site.

Diagrammatic map by C. Webster, South West Heritage Trust

Aerial views from Google Maps

Historic England have given us the go ahead to convert the Ilchester Roman Cemetery into a public area so that people can visit.  

It’s a massive undertaking for us, and it will be slow. However, it will be great to have the stages documented here. Subscribe below to make sure you don’t miss a post.

Would you like to know more about the history of Ilchester?

Sign-up here for history updates…

Share this: