Romano-Celtic temple and enclosure on Farley Heath, 300m SSE of Greenglade House.
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 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. 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. In view of their rarity and their importance in contributing to the complete picture of Roman religious practice, including its continuity from Iron Age practice, all Romano-Celtic temples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national importance.
The Romano-Celtic temple at Farley Heath has been shown by partial excavation to contain archaeological remains relating to the original use and history of the site. It will also contain environmental information relating to the temple and the landscape in which it was constructed. Archaeological investigations indicate that the monument was of considerable importance and significance as a site of Romano-British religious practice.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 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 Romano-Celtic temple, surviving as buried archaeological remains, and a surrounding enclosure denoted by a bank and ditch. The monument is situated on a gentle north-east facing slope on high ground to the west of Farley Heath Road. The central part of the temple, including the cella and ambulatory, is 14m sq. This is enclosed by a temenos wall 73m in diameter. A further quadrangular enclosure denoted by an intermittent bank and ditch, measures about 200m by 200m and encloses the whole complex. This latter enclosure is not believed to be contemporary with the rest of the site and is possibly of medieval origin.
The site was partially excavated in 1848, 1926 and 1939. There were further excavations and a geophysical survey undertaken in the late 20th century. These investigations uncovered a considerable range of finds including Neolithic flintwork, a ‘Celtic priest’s sceptre’, coin hoards, a Roman ladle or cyathus, ridge tiles and pottery sherds dating to the Bronze Age, Iron Age and Roman periods. The coins included gold, silver and bronze British coins of Verica, Epaticcus, Tincommius and Epaticcus, and Roman coins varying from Tibeius to Arcadius. Many of these artefacts are likely to be votive offerings deposited at the temple. In addition the monument is associated with a branch road of Stane Street Roman road, which is likely to have followed natural trackways across Farley Heath, a short distance from the temple. Several kilns, dating to around the 3rd or 4th century, with intact cooking pots were identified at or near the site.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally assessed.