Northover House, late Roman cemetery
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1006128
Date first listed: 22-Jul-1983
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: South Somerset (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: ST 52165 22965
Part of a Roman cemetery 150m north west of Ilchester Bridge.
Reasons for Designation
The part of a Roman cemetery 150m north west of Ilchester Bridge is a rare survival and provides an important insight into social and religious divisions within the Roman Town of Ilchester, the cemetery lies just within the northern gate of the town defences. It will contain important archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the inhabitants including the population structure, diet, social conditions, health and longevity of individuals. It will also indicate the spread of Christianity, trade, various craft skills, and the diffusion of different styles and fashions in burial rite and funerary practices.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 3 September 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.
This monument includes part of a Roman cemetery situated on the northern side of the River Yeo (Ivel) on the north western side of the settlement of Ilchester in the area known as Northover. The cemetery lies beneath at least 0.5m of soil and survives as entirely buried structures, layers and deposits. It was first discovered in 1834 when a stone coffin was unearthed along with a skeleton, bone comb, bronze band and enamel bangle. In 1890 Jack Cox found a lead coffin and in around 1933 two further coffins one stone and one lead were found lying parallel and approximately 0.6m apart. The lead coffin was decorated with a herringbone ornament. An evaluation excavation was undertaken in 1982. Three phases of use were identified. The first phase included ditches and one or possibly two stone built structures dated to the 1st to 4th centuries and containing 2nd century pottery and thought to represent suburbs connected to the Roman town of Ilchester pre-dating the cemetery. Between the 4th and 5th centuries an inhumation cemetery was established with an estimated 1500 burials aligned east to west with the heads to the west. At least two boundary ditches were found but few grave goods. Eight burials were excavated and six were removed for further examination. Stone and lead coffins were recorded and also evidence for wooden coffins and stone cists. It is thought to have been a Christian cemetery. In the third post Roman phase there was no medieval disturbance although in the 17th century the County Gaol was located to the south. The latest features identified were 18th and 19th century and related to the use of the area as a garden.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: SO 510
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
PastScape Monument No:-196584
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing