ROMAN ARTEFACTS FROM THE WICK COUNTRY PARKDuring 2001 several arable fields were landscaped to create the contours of the Park we see today. One of the many diggers on site was assigned to dig out a section of the bank of the stream that runs through the Park - now known as the North Benfleet Brook. The driver of the digger was asked to create the small pond that now lies in the middle of North Benfleet Brook which runs through the Park. Fortunately the digger driver was keeping his eye on the soil that he dug out of the bank. At one stage he stopped digging and went to have a closer look at something that he had spotted in the soil. He had seen what looked like broken pieces of red pottery. He recalled that on a previous job elsewhere he had found similar pieces of pottery and been told that they were from the Roman period. He decided to put the pieces to one side for further investigation.
I collected the pieces of pottery and took them to show to Sam Weller of the Billericay and District Archeology Society. He confirmed that they were pieces from the late Roman period. Whilst most were shards of broken pottery, he pointed out one that was part of a roof tile, which suggested that there may have been a dwelling in the area some 1,700 years before.
I was telling fellow Friend Rose Johnson about the above finds and she told me that she was not surprised. She told me that about 20 years ago her sons used to play in the cornfields that are now occupied by the Park. They often came home with bits of broken red pottery that they had found in the fields. Rose knows her pottery and had identified the pieces as being Roman.
Roman material is often found in Essex, but material from The Wick Country Park was a pleasant surprise. But why there? Well, here is one possibility. If you look at a map of south Essex and draw a line from Canvey Island (where there was a Roman port) to Chelmsford (the local Roman garrison), you will find that the line passes close by the site of The Wick Country Park, and Beauchamps School where Roman material was found in a 1960s excavation. So it may just be that some of the pieces were dropped by people travelling between the port and the garrison. Alternatively, there is the fascinating prospect that Romans were once living in the area that we now know as The Wick Country Park!
So if you are walking in the park and see a bit of red pottery in the soil, pick it up - it might be another piece of Roman pottery!