The Flood of 2009
The Story of this community archaeology project really begins with the devastating flood event that took place in Cumbria in November 2009 which flooded the towns of Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington, and caused severe damage through erosion and gravel deposition throughout the Derwent Valley. The flood water cut a straight channel across the Broomlands field, which lies on the south bank of the river Derwent between Papcastle and Cockermouth. After the waters had receded, local people reported finding pottery and Roman material in this field to the County Archaeologist and Portable Antiquities Scheme. At that time there was no record of any archaeological sites on this part of the flood plain and no record of Roman activity at papcastle to the south of the river.
In 2010, Grampus Heritage and Training Ltd led a team of local volunteers to undertake a geophysical survey of the Broomlands field, which was later expanded to cover other land in the Derwent Valley. This survey revealed a wealth of archaeological activity on the flood plain and led to the 2010 Broomlands excavations. Both the survey and excavations in 2010 were funded by the Bassenthwaite Reflections Heritage Lottery Landscape Partnership Scheme. All fieldwork was completed by an enthusiastic team of volunteers, with training andsupervision from North Pennines Archaeology and Grampus Heritage. The Broomlands excavations proved that the civillian settlement (vicus) associated with the fort of Derventio at papcastle was much larger than previously thought and that Roman occupation on the floodplain spanned a period from the 1st to 4th Centuries. The highlight of these excavations was the discovery of a Roman watermill with surviving waterlogged timbers lining the mill race.
Following completion of the Bassenthwaite Reflections project at the end of 2010, Grampus Heritage submitted a proposal to the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop and deliver a three-year community archaeology project, specifically to research the extent of Roman Papcastle and to look at the relationship between the settlement and the river. The Discovering Derventio project was approved in July 2013 and will run until the end of 2015.