Roman mansio, 222m SSW of Roman Gate Cottage.
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. Few examples have been positively identified and, in view of this rarity, all mansiones with surviving remains are considered to be of national importance.
Despite disturbance by agricultural activity in the past the Roman mansio at Alfoldean survives well. Archaeological and environmental information relating to its construction and use is known to survive. The archaeological remains in the vicinity of the site, together with its location on the course of Stane Street Roman road, a major line of communication between London and Chichester, enhances its significance.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 6 November 2014. The 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.
The monument includes a Roman mansio at Alfoldean surviving as earthworks and below-ground remains. It is situated on the flood plain of the River Arun, north of Slinfold. The site of the mansio is surrounded by a rectilinear enclosure, which lies across the course of Stane Street, now built over by the modern A29 roadway. Stane Street was the major south west-north-east aligned Roman road that linked the regional capital of Noviomagus Regnensium (Chichester) to Londinium (London).
The mansio enclosure is denoted by a bank and external ditch. A survey in the late 20th century showed that it survived to the east, south and west, though having been part-levelled by ploughing. On the west side, where it was best preserved, the rampart was 15m wide and 0.2m high, and the ditch was 20m wide and up to 0.8m deep. Partial excavation was carried out on the site in 1922-3, 1934-5, 1983 and in 2005. These showed that the mansio enclosure measures 94m north-south by 107m east-west. The foundations of buildings, floors and debris were recovered, along with Roman objects and pottery, indicating a period of occupation of between about AD 100 and AD 375. The mansio is thought to be based on a courtyard plan.
Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally assessed. To the south, either side of Stane Street, is a Romano-British roadside settlement. Partial excavation and geophysical survey have identified an extensive complex of archaeological features including settlement remains, pits, field systems, trackways and evidence for workshops. North of the mansio enclosure are the remains of a Roman bridge, under the modern Alfoldean Bridge, which carried Stane Street over the River Arun. A series of anchoring piles have been identified on the north and south sides of the river.