Reasons for Designation
Mansiones were substantial, mostly masonry, buildings of varying size and plan providing facilities, including accommodation and stabling, for travellers associated with the Cursus Publicus (the provincial postal service of Roman Britain). Constructed on or adjacent to major contemporary roads, they are usually found in urban contexts or within forts, although some examples lie between towns on roads which cross the more sparsely settled rural areas. They are found throughout England. Dating from the second to mid-fourth centuries AD, mansiones were often amongst the largest buildings of the town. The largest recorded urban example is at Silchester, where the mansio covers an area of c.0.4ha. Most examples survive in the form of buried foundations. Fewer than ten examples have been positively identified and, in view of this rarity, all mansiones with surviving remains are considered to be of importance.
Five types of town are known to have existed in Roman Britain and of these the 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.
Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from c. AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150 miles (241km) per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside `mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles (12.87km) on major roads) and stopping overnight at `mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles (32km-40km). Additionally throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement.
The part of a small Roman town, the Roman road called Watling Street and a mansio 255m north west of Upper Woodhouse Farm survives well and will retain a great deal of archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the construction, development, longevity, social, military, political, industrial, strategic and economic significance of the town and its influence over the surrounding hinterland and landscape context will be preserved. The juxtaposition of the road, settlement and mansion is of particular significance and adds considerably to its importance.
The monument, which falls into three areas of protection, includes parts of a small Roman town, a section of the Roman road known as Watling Street, and a mansio known collectively as 'Uxacona' or "the high place". It is situated on the crest of a prominent hill, overlooking the Shropshire Plain. The part of the town, road and mansio survive as entirely buried structures and deposits which are visible on aerial photographs as crop and soil marks and have been confirmed through partial excavation, field walking and geophysical surveys. The mansio, which was first recorded in 1953, straddles the road and is visible on aerial photographs as a round-cornered ditched enclosure. Excavations in 1959-62 showed it measured approximately 61m long by 53.3m wide and had a wide and robbed defensive outer wall with the foundations for a substantial gate tower. Further excavations in 1973 confirmed a 6m wide berm and a 3.2m wide and 1.8m deep U-shaped profile ditch surrounded the enclosure. Field walking in 1972-3 as well as the excavations produced Samian and coarse pottery including sherds from a mortarium from Verulamium suggesting occupation dates for the 4th century. The surrounding small town was also confirmed by excavations and field walking and extended to the north and south of Watling Street. These suggested continuous occupation of the town from the 1st to 5th centuries and this included a fragmentary timber and clay built 1st century building. Watling Street still lies partially beneath the present road surface but, where exposed by excavation, was found to be composed of small cobbles mixed with pottery, above cobbles and overlying the natural geology. Ditches marked the side of the road which was up to 10m wide.
Further archaeological remains survive in the immediate vicinity some of which are scheduled separately.
Sources: PastScape 73987 and 1164783
Shropshire HER 0099, 01113, 05966, 05986, 05987 and 05988
This list entry was scheduled twice, the other schedule (list entry 1006272, OCN WK201) was deleted on 04/07/2019)