Earthwork 300m south west of Fair Rosamund's Well, Blenheim Park
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1009417
Date first listed: 14-Feb-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: SP 43399 16256
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 was the
focus of the site, although it did not necessarily occupy the central position
in the temenos. It 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. Some temenoi enclosed other buildings, often substantial and built
in materials and styles similar to those of the temple; these are generally
interpreted as priests' houses, shops or guest houses.
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
The Romano-Celtic temple in Blenheim Park survives well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, function and the landscape in which it was built. This is one of several examples to survive in this area, all contained within the area defined by the north Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch.
The monument includes an earthwork, interpreted as an enclosed Romano-Celtic
temple, situated 300m south west of Fair Rosamund's Well, in Blenheim Park.
The site occupies a position overlooking a valley to the east which was
landscaped to form a large artificial lake during the 18th century.
The enclosure survives as a ditch and bank containing an area 19m square. The
bank measures 3.5m wide and stands up to 0.3m high on all sides. The outer
ditch has become largely infilled over time but is visible at ground level as
a shallow depression 2.8m wide. There is a break in the south eastern corner
of the earthwork and this may represent the original entrance to the interior.
The interior of the enclosure is level although the presence of a coniferous
plantation obscures the view. The interior would have contained one or more
structures relating to the religious functions of the site. Evidence of these
structures in the form of pits, postholes and trenches will survive as buried
The site is one of a number of Romano-Celtic temples which appear to be
concentrated in the area between the River Evenlode and the River Glym.
Excluded from the scheduling is the post and wire fence surrounding the
plantation, although the ground beneath 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: 21815
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Bond, CJ, Blenheim: Landscape and Palace, (1987)
FAIREY, 8,072, (1961)
PRN 12740, C.A.O., Square Enclosure, (1993)
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