Two Roman forts 580m south west of Mere Lane Farm.
Reasons for Designation
Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army. In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between the mid-first and mid-second centuries AD. Some were only used for short periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways, towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was a gradual replacement of timber with stone. Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally important.
The two Roman forts 580m south west of Mere Lane Farm survive as buried archaeological features and deposits and will provide evidence for Roman military strategy during the Romano-British period of occupation. The identification of the largest enclosure as a probable vexillation fortress enhances the significance of the monument. Vexillation fortresses - campaigning bases holding a mixed detatchment of between 2500 and 4000 legionary and auxiliary troops are rare nationally with less then 20 identified examples, most of which are situated in the Midlands.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 12 June 2015. 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, which falls into two separate areas of protection, includes two Roman forts situated on gentle sloping ground to the west where it meets the River Penk and to the south where a stream runs approximately 50m from its southern boundary. The monument is known from cropmarks visible from aerial photographs and survives as two double ditched rectangular enclosures with rounded corners. The larger encloses an area of approximately 10.5 hectares and the smaller encloses an area of approximately 7.3 hectares. The smaller enclosure utilises the western defences of the larger enclosure with a reduction of approximately 120m at its eastern end. Excavation indicates that the larger enclosure is earlier in date, and finds including Samian, coarse ware and fragments of amphora suggest a mid first century date for construction of the earlier fort with occupation continuing until the early Flavian period. A rubbish dump has also been identified at the western limit of the monument by the river containing charcoal, daub, pottery, bone and large stones.
The earlier fort has been identified as a possible vexillation fortress. The forts lie 650m north of Watling Street, the early Roman road from London to the legionary fortress of Wroxeter. A number of Roman military sites have been identified in the vicinity of Stretton Mill and Water Eaton, including two forts, a number of camps and a small defended settlement known as Pennocrucium. They occupy a strategic location and a nodal point in the Roman road system, with roads leaving Watling Street for Chester, Wroxeter, Greensforge, and perhaps Metchley.