Romano-Celtic temple 245m south-east of The Weir.
Reasons for Designation
Romano-Celtic temples were built to meet the spiritual needs of the communities they served by venerating the god or spirit considered to dwell in a particular place. The temple building was regarded as the treasure house of its deity and priests rather than as a congregational building and any religious activities, including private worship, communal gatherings, sanctuary and healing, took place outside. Romano-Celtic temples included the temple building and a surrounding sacred precinct or temenos which could be square, circular, rectangular or polygonal in ground plan. The temple building invariably faced due east and was the focus of the site, although it did not necessarily occupy the central position in the temenos. It comprised a cella, or inner temple chamber, an ambulatory or walkway around the cella, and sometimes annexes or antechambers. The buildings were constructed of a variety of materials, including stone, cob and timber, and walls were often plastered and painted both internally and externally. Some temenoi enclosed other buildings, often substantial and built in materials and styles similar to those of the temple; these are generally interpreted as priests' houses, shops or guest houses. Romano-Celtic temples were built and used throughout the Roman period from the mid first century AD to the late fourth/early fifth century AD, with individual examples being used for relatively long periods of time. They were widespread throughout southern and eastern England, although there are no examples in the far south west and they are rare nationally with only about 150 sites recorded in England. They are extremely rare and important for contributing to our understanding of the complete picture of Roman religious practice, including its continuity from Iron Age practice. Despite river erosion, subsidence and partial excavation the Romano-Celtic temple 245m south east of The Weir will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, function, social, ritual and religious significance, longevity, abandonment, adaptive re-use and overall landscape context.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 21 May 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 includes a Romano-Celtic temple situated on an artificially enhanced natural terrace on the northern bank of the River Wye. The temple survives as a terrace defined by two massive stone built abutments which are 6m and 4m wide, an octagonal cistern and a series of rooms and a tessellated pavement which survive as entirely buried features recorded on geophysical surveys. The cistern was first discovered in 1891 and is octagonal and stepped. At the top it is 2.1m in diameter decreasing to 0.1m at the base. It was set into a streamlet and drained with a trough which could be blocked in order to fill it with water. When excavated in 1891, it was thought to have been a well or possibly a medieval baptistry although tesserae were recovered at the base. The terrace onto which the cistern is set is revetted by a stone wall of up to 4m high and the abutments were made from large slabs of stone interspersed with Roman pottery and roof or flue tile fragments. It lies on a spring line. Trial excavations in 1977 and resistivity surveys in 1991 found a series of rooms connected with the abutments and located at least one mosaic pavement as well as finds of Roman pottery, tile, and painted wall plaster. The interpretations of the site have included a villa, bath house or the most favoured a Roman Nymphaeum or water shrine. The terrace has also been allegedly re-used during the 19th century as a wharf for loading corn onto barges in the River Wye or as a bridge abutment.