Part of a Roman small town surrounding Reading Court at Tiddington.
Reasons for Designation
Five types of town are known to have existed in Roman Britain: coloniae, municipia, civitas capitals, Roman provincial capitals and Roman small towns. The first four types can be classified as `public towns' because each had an official status within the provincial administrative system. Roman small towns are settlements of urban character which lack the administrative status of public towns, but which are nevertheless recognisably urban in terms of morphology, features and function. They tend to lack the planned rectangular street grids, public buildings and well-appointed town houses of the public towns and instead are generally characterised by mainly insubstantial timber or half-timbered structures. Some small towns possess an enclosing wall, while others have masonry or earthwork defences. Additional features include temples, bath houses, ovens, kilns and cemeteries. Roman small towns began to emerge in the mid-first century AD. However, the majority of examples appeared in the later first and second centuries, while the third and fourth centuries saw the growth and development of existing establishments, together with the emergence of a small number of new ones. Some small towns had their origins in earlier military sites such as fort-vici and developed into independent urban areas following the abandonment of the forts. Others developed alongside major roads and were able to exploit a wide range of commercial opportunities as a result of their location. There are a total of 133 Roman small towns recorded in England. These are mainly concentrated in the Midlands and central southern England. Some examples have survived as undeveloped `green-field' sites and consequently possess particularly well-preserved archaeological remains. Despite some erosion and past cultivation the part of a Roman small town surrounding Reading Court at Tiddington survives comparatively well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, longevity, social, political, industrial, commercial and economic significance, domestic arrangements, agricultural practices, abandonment and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 June 2015. This record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records. As such they do not yet have the full descriptions of their modernised counterparts available. Please contact us if you would like further information.
This monument, which falls into two areas, includes part of a Roman small town situated on a gravel terrace just above the southern floodplain of the River Avon. The small town survives as entirely buried structures, layers and deposits which have been confirmed through the discovery of chance finds from the 18th century onwards, partial excavations from 1925-7 and in 1981 and in part the town is also visible as crop and soil marks on aerial photographs. The settlement began as a series of scattered Iron Age farmsteads which were replaced by a more concentrated settlement in the 1st century AD which covered approximately 8ha and appeared to be based on a strong industrial component which included tile kilns, iron and lead smelting and featured roasting and smelting furnaces, a water cistern and washing tank. As the settlement increased its economic basis was more biased towards agriculture. The settlement was built beside a road and close to a natural crossing point on the River Avon and continued in occupation until the 5th century. During the 4th century a defensive and roughly rectangular outer ditch was constructed which has been partly excavated on the south and eastern sides and this surrounded an area of approximately 22ha. Timber built buildings and roads are known to the north but only two stone built buildings have so far been investigated. On the western side was a large cemetery and from 1923-4 220 graves were excavated. These graves included those of men, women and children. Twelve more have been investigated subsequently. The cemetery contained mainly inhumations with some cremations.