Jill Eyers on Roman brothel in a des res village in the Thames Valley

26 Jun 2010

Hambledon village, between Henley and Marlow, a short distance from the Thames Long Distance footpath, is an upmarket village with a nearby winery and toff food on offer, yet it has been hiding a secret. The presence of a brothel. In this instance the brothel is a Roman one and was attached in some way to a villa complex near the modern village - now under a field of growing barley. The story comes from BBC News and will shortly be the focus of a BBC2 programme. The BBC interviewed Dr Jill Eyers, a local geologist and director of Chiltern Archaeology, a group that has been excavating in the Hambledon area for a couple of years, on the subject of the discovery of the bones of 97 babies that died shortly after birth. She suspects they were unwanted pregnancies associated with a Roman brothel - but the gruesome discovery itself was made at Yewdon Farm a 100 years ago and the excavator was not at the time very interested in them - assuming, we might suppose, they were still born. However, the bowels of Aylesbury Museum - where Jill Eyers is involved with the county geological group - harboured some 300 boxes of artifacts, pottery and bones, and these have been resurrected from oblivion and looked at anew. Hence, the story. Looking at the excavation report, which was meticulous it is claimed, the bones were found beneath courtyards or under walls but all fairly close to each other. DNA tests are now to be taken.