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 Charlbury. 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 tent. 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

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