AN archaeological dig in the centre of Worcester has been hailed as the most important excavation of the Roman period in 20 years.

The excavation of The Butts, on the site of the future Worcester Library and History Centre site, has given local historians a major insight into the Roman town of Vigornia – which became Worcester.

Worcestershire County Council’s historic environment and archaeology team can now prove that Roman Worcester was a well-developed town with trade links across the empire.

Hal Dalwood, senior project manager for the historic environment and archaeological service, said: “There is no doubt that this is the most important excavation of Roman Worcester in the last 20 years.  “The site will transform our understanding of the beginnings of Worcester.”

Archaeologists have discovered a row of domestic buildings, a street leading to the river Severn, underground ovens, a stone-lined well and two large quarry pits full of domestic rubbish.

The site is the most extensively developed Roman settlement in Worcester that historians have ever seen. It is hoped a detailed study of the archaeological findings will reveal more about trade links to towns throughout the Roman Empire.

Elsewhere on the site, the historians investigated a mediaeval ditch.

They discovered that the impressive defensive feature was four metres deep and was cleaned out during the 1640s, when Civil War raged across the country.

Archaeologists have also looked at the site’s more modern history.

They studied a sawmill and timber yard, foundations of the now demolished Nash Almshouses and buildings that were once part of the cattle market.

The team now wants to know more about The Butts during the 20th century and has urged anyone with memories or photographs of the Nash Almshouses, the cattle market and the old Worcester City Council yard to get in touch.

Mr Dalwood can be contacted on 01905 855456 or e-mail hdalwood@worcestershire.