Fancy an early pint? Evidence of Roman beer production found near Bedford

Evidence of ancient beer production has been found as part of work on the Black Cat roundabout.

Archaeologists from MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) and the Cambridge Archaeological Unit made the find at a site known as Field 44 in Central Bedfordshire.

Excavated between July 2021 and February 2022, the excavation revealed the remains of a farmhouse used from the Middle Iron Age (c. 300-100 BC) until the Late Roman period (201-400 AD)

Left, top to bottom: An archaeologist digging in field 44; Remains of corn dryer/malting kiln discovered; Sift soil samples using a technique called flotation. Right: carbonized spelled grains separated from the soil during flotation. Ready for microscopic analysis ©MOLA

Among the many finds at Field 44 were the remains of a Roman oven, used to dry grain.

However, archaeobotanists have identified charred spelled grains that were allowed to germinate before being dried within this structure.

As large amounts of grain can only germinate when the goal is to produce malt, this strongly suggests that the people of the colony were involved in the production of beer.

Read more

Read more

Video shows what the new A428 Black Cat roundabout will look like in Bedfordshire

Interestingly, little evidence of the structures needed for brewing has yet been identified, so it’s unclear whether the people at Field 44 were completing the process on site.

Rachel Ballantyne, scientific adviser to the project, said: “It is possible that only malt was produced here, which was then transported to be brewed elsewhere.

“It raises interesting questions about how the people living on this farm might have interacted with nearby communities as part of a larger trade network.”

Experts are also studying the remains of ancient plants, invertebrates and pollen that have been found.

Comments are closed.