A pair of Roman camps and a section of a post-medieval sunken road situated in the north eastern corner of Cornbury Park
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
- Cornbury and Wychwood
- National Grid Reference:
- SP 35163 18812
Reasons for Designation
Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were
constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as
practice camps; most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and
few were used for longer periods. They were bounded by a single earthen
rampart and outer ditch and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded
corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many
as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in
the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive
outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most
known examples lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been
identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by
the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they
provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation.
All well-preserved examples are identified as being of national importance.
The pair of Roman camps in the north eastern corner of Cornbury Park are well preserved and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction and the landscape in which they were built. They are located within an area which was heavily occupied by farms and villas during the later Roman period and they will provide evidence of the brief period of military activity following the invasion.
The monument includes a pair of Roman camps and a section of post-medieval
sunken road, overlooking the valley of the River Evenlode in the north eastern
corner of Cornbury Park.
The larger of the two camps is situated to the north east of the other and
lies on the edge of a ridge overlooking the river valley, opposite the town of
The larger camp has three well preserved sides of a rectangular enclosure
measuring 124.4m from south west to north east and 94.4m from north west to
south east, surrounded by an earthen rampart and outer ditch. The rampart
measures 5.2m wide and stands up to 0.6m high except on the north eastern side
where it has been levelled by cultivation in the past and is no longer visible
at ground level. The ditch is 5.6m wide and, although it has become partially
infilled over time, survives as a visible feature 0.4m deep. This provided
material for the construction of the ramparts as well as additional protection
to the defences of the camp.
The camp was entered via four gateways, one on each side, with the shorter,
south western and north eastern sides having centrally located openings c.6m
wide through the rampart. The gap in the south western side has been widened
at a later date where a tree-lined avenue runs through the rampart. However,
the terminal ends of the original ditches can be seen as lighter areas in the
grass cover. These entrance gaps would have been defended by wooden gate
towers with the ramparts topped by a palisade fence, to provide extra
protection for the soldiers camped inside.
The entrances on the two longer sides were situated about two thirds of the
way along the sides and one can clearly be seen 87m north of the south eastern
corner of the camp. This layout is typical of Roman fort plans in which the
two main roads formed a T-junction in front of the headquarters building or
The second camp is situated 37m to the south and is best preserved on the
north eastern and north western sides. It has an enclosed area of 60m by 90m,
which is half the size of its neighbour. The rampart measures 3.8m across and
0.4m high. The surrounding ditch measures 5m across and, although partially
infilled, survives as a visible feature 0.4m deep. The south eastern end of
the camp is no longer visible at ground level, while the south western side is
marked by a series of irregular disturbances which are believed to be the
locations of later quarrying along the line of the ditch.
A post-medieval sunken road runs from north to south between the two camps and
measures 4m across with external banks 2m wide and up to 0.6m high on either
side. This track runs south across the park for c.800m before turning south
west towards the house and stables. A 120m long section at this northern end
is included in the scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are the drystone wall and the boundary fence
running from north to south across the eastern side, although the ground
beneath these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Sutton, J E G, 'Oxoniensia' in Iron Age Hillforts and Other Earthworks in Oxon., , Vol. XXXI, (1966), p 39
Discussion of excavated fort areas, Johnson, A., Roman Forts, (1983)
Discussion with P. BOOTH (OAU), JEFFERY, P., Site Discussion, (1993)
Discussion with P. BOOTH (OAU), JEFFERY, P.P., DISCUSSION ON SITE, (1993)
Discussion with P. SMITH (CAO. OXON), JEFFERY, P., DISCUSSION, (1993)
PRN 13,349 Note 1, C.A.O., BOUNDARY BANK, (1980)
PRN 13,349, C.A.O., BOUNDARY BANK, (1980)
PRN 2400, C.A.O., Rectangular Enclosure - Hillfort, (1966)
SHEET SP 31 NE, R.C.H.M.(E), NAR 1:10,000 Map Coverage, (1976)
SP 31 NE 20, R.C.H.M.(E), BOUNDARY ?, (1976)
Title: SMR 1:10000 Map Coverage Source Date: 1990 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Sheet SP 31 NE
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