ARCHAEOLOGISTS from Bournemouth have uncovered ancient burials during a dig near a Roman villa in north Dorset.

Staff and students from Bournemouth University unearthed five skeletons near a Roman Villa in Winterborne Kingston on Wednesday, June 15.

It’s thought the remains, which date back to the mid-4th century, could belong to three generations of the same family who owned the villa.

The skeletons of two adult males, two adult females and one elderly female were discovered at the farm, which is currently being excavated as part of the Durotriges Big Dig project.

Miles Russell, senior lecturer in archaeology at Bournemouth University and one of the archaeologists leading the dig, said: “The discovery is of great significance as it is the only time where evidence of a villa and the villa’s occupants have been found in the same location in Britain.

“This could provide us with significant information, never retrieved before, about the state of health of the villa owners, their ancestry and where they came from.”

He added: “One of the big questions in south sest is whether the villas in the area were owned by Britons who have become Roman or owned by people from another part of the Empire who have come to exploit an under-developed rural area.

“All villas in this region in the south west are late-Roman – and our findings should tell us more about what life was like in this period of history. This is what can be assessed when the bones are analysed.”

The villa was excavated last year by students working on the project. The latest dig is the final stage of the excavation project.

The remains were removed from the site on Thursday and are being stored at Bournemouth University where they will undergo further analysis.

Paul Cheetham, senior lecturer in Archaeological Sciences and co-director of the project, added: “We are looking at the rural elite of late-Roman Britain, living through the economic collapse that took place during this period.

“These remains will shed light on the final stages of the golden age of Roman Britain.”