Roman drove, enclosures and building platform at Chestnut Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1009990

Date first listed: 15-Dec-1994


Ordnance survey map of Roman drove, enclosures and building platform at Chestnut Farm
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This copy shows the entry on 24-Jan-2019 at 09:25:11.


The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: City of Peterborough (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Thorney

National Grid Reference: TF 31599 08359


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

During the Roman period, particularly during the second century AD, the fen silts and areas bordering the peat fens were extensively and often densely occupied and farmed. The Roman field systems in the Fenland were often laid out around or between small settlements of no more than a few farmsteads, although some may reflect land division and land management on a more widely organised scale. Sometimes they may be associated with a major landscape feature, such as a road or canal. They comprised more or less regular blocks of rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures, often aligned along and linked by droves and sometimes covering large areas, although most are less than 200ha in extent. Both fields and droves were defined by ditches, sometimes with adjoining banks, which may remain visible on the ground as earthworks. The field systems are, however, recognisable primarily through air photography in which the rectilinear pattern shows up in crop marks, soil marks or relief lines. The pattern of the fields and droves in the Fens suggests a concern chiefly with stock management, although arable agriculture will also have played some part. Many field systems have been recorded in the region, and although almost all have been levelled by later agriculture, many of the levelled systems will nevertheless retain archaeological features of national importance. These, and all field systems which retain identifiable upstanding earthworks, are considered to be worthy of protection.

The earthworks at Chestnut Farm survive very well and cover approximately a tenth of the area of the system of which they form a part, the rest having been recorded in some detail from air photographs. Archaeological information relating to the organisation and use of the field system as a whole, including evidence of farming practice on the site and of the local environment at that time, will be contained in the fill of the ditches bordering the drove and enclosures, in deposits beneath the surface of the enclosures, and in and beneath the building platform. The building platform will also contain evidence of structures.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes upstanding earthworks which form part of a drove of Roman date and associated rectangular ditched enclosures, sited on the raised surface of an earlier, silted tidal creek. The drove appears slightly raised above the adjacent ground level and is visible across the southern end of the site on a line north west - south east. It ranges from 6m to 10m in width and is bordered along either side by ditches which have become partly infilled, but which are visible as linear hollows 3m to 4m wide and up to 0.4m deep in the ground surface. To the north of the drove, and aligned on an axis roughly at right angles to it, are parts of a series of contiguous rectangular enclosures, visible over an area with maximimum dimensions of 150m north west - south east by 77m north east - south west. The ditches which define the enclosures are from 3m to 4.5m wide and have a total depth of 0.8m or more, including approximately 0.5m of accumulated fill. Within the south eastern corner of the northernmost enclosure is a rectangular earthen platform approximately 0.3m high and measuring approximately 12m north west - south east by 7m north east - south west, which is interpreted as the site of a building. The earthworks are part of a system of enclosures laid out on a regular plan to either side of subsidiary droves which lead off at right angles from the north side of the principal north west - south east drove. The rest of the site, to north and west of the surviving earthworks, is under cultivation, but the ditches show as crop marks, the pattern of which has been traced by means of aerial photography, extending over an area of at least 15ha. The enclosures have, for the most part, the appearance of paddocks and corrals designed for the management of stock, and the site is probably part of a single ranch rather than a series of small settlements or farmsteads. The parts of the site defined only by crop marks are excluded from the scheduling. The stable which stands in the southern of the two paddocks which contain the earthworks is excluded from the scheduling, as are the field boundary fences and gates, water troughs and supply pipes, and fixed jumps built of timber in the north paddock, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 20801

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hall, D N, Palmer, R, Fenland Evaluation Project: Cambridgeshire, (1990)
Hall, D N, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 2: Cambridgeshire, Peterborough to March, , Vol. 35, (1987), 51,52

End of official listing