Roman Villa at Lupset

In my art college days, back in the late 1960s and early 70s, if you looked down Manor Road, Ossett, towards the newly constructed M1 motorway (this section opened in 1968), you’d see, not the tree-fringed grassy slope Lupset Hill that I sketched last week (left), but the spoil heaps of Roundwood Colliery.

The name Lupset might be from the Norse ‘Lufa’s, or Luppa’s Headland’.

Mosaics, presumably from a Roman villa, were reported from Lupset in the nineteenth century, but they have since disappeared. As a boy, William Briggs, a market gardener from Thornes, saw:

‘Some Roman tessellated pavements just beneath the surface in the field between Snapethorpe Hall and the road leading to Ossett (Ossett Street-side) . . . he had bared them with his cap in order to look more particularly at the pattern.’

Wakefield, Its History and People, J W Walker, Chapter II

So, if you live between the A638, which follows the course of a Roman road, the Via Vicinalis, and the site of Snapethorpe Primary School (the site of the old Hall) and you keep finding small square tesserae when you’re digging the garden, you might be on the site of a long lost Roman villa.

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  1. Are you aware that an archaeological dig started there yesterday? On the fields behind Airedale Heights and Milton Road as part of a planning application to build 258 homes on the land.

    1. Wow, I thought the entire area was already under bricks and mortar. It would be wonderful if the tessellated pavement came to light after all these years.

      1. Looking at the map, my guess would be that the villa would have been nearer the line of the Roman road. Hopefully they’ll turn up something of interest though. It’s surprising that the area hasn’t already been disturbed by mining activity.

    1. Sounds pretty thorough and there do seem to be more indications of settlement than I expected. Looking for a carpet-sized tessellated pavement in such a wide area is going to need a bit of luck too. If that’s all that remains, I don’t see how terra cotta would show up against a background of shale. Still, they’re on the case, so hope there’s a breakthrough.
      I’m going to have to give up on walks booklets though. There’s another of my walks where people will be walking around houses rather than across open fields!

      1. Not if we can help it – we’re trying to object to this housing development:

        1. Best of luck! I tried to sign your petition but it didn’t work on my Mac, but this is what I would have written in the ‘comments’: I’d be so sorry to see this open space go because it features in one of my walks booklets. There are some great walks in the Wakefield area but they’re spread about and I think it’s so important that the people of Lupset, Horbury and Ossett should have access to joined-up green spaces on their doorstep instead of having to set off by car or bus to a country park.

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