Iron Age and Roman settlement at Bar Pastures
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1009991
Date first listed: 28-Jul-1995
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: City of Peterborough (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference: TF 25085 02508
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
Fenland silts around the Wash and areas on and close to the margins of the
peat fens were extensively and often densely occupied and farmed. Rural
settlements were small, comprising individual farmsteads or, more often,
groups of several farmsteads organised in small villages which, with their
associated field systems, were aligned along droves. Droves also served to
link loose clusters of neighbouring settlements in a branching and
intersecting network which might extend over several kilometres. The pattern
of settlement was determined chiefly by the requirements of stock management
and animal husbandry, exploiting pastures on the silts and higher ground, and
the summer grazing and winter fodder provided by the adjacent freshwater fens.
Although arable agriculture was almost certainly practised also, there was an
element of self sufficiency in craft production and in the exploitation of
local resources. Each farmstead was normally contained within a rectangular or
sub-rectangular enclosure or block of enclosures, demarcated by substantial
ditches and including low, thatched buildings of clay and wattle and daub on a
light timber frame, with working areas such as farmyard, stockyard, rickyards
and gardens alongside. Often the buildings were sited on natural hummocks or
on artificially raised platforms. The earliest of such settlements, which are
dated to the later first century AD, are generally very small and differ
little in general appearance from certain settlements of the preceding Iron
Age, although Iron Age settlements in the Fenland region are not so numerous
or widespread. During the second century, when small and large-scale
engineering projects, including the construction of roads and canals, were
carried out widely in the Fens, the size and complexity of the settlements
tended to increase and the layout of droves and fields to become more regular.
Many were, however, abandoned in the third century AD because of increasing
problems of flooding and drainage. Numerous Roman settlements of this type,
with their associated field systems, have been recorded in the Fens,
particularly through air photography, and they serve to illustrate both the
nature of small-scale farming during the period of the Roman occupation and
the ways in which a local population adapted to and exploited a particular
environment. Many of the sites have, however, been reduced by medieval and
later agriculture, and very few remain with upstanding earthworks, with a
varied range of identifiable features and/or evidence for the survival of
environmental remains. Consequently, all sites which survive as earthworks or
which have a varied range of identifiable features are considered to be of
The Iron Age and Roman settlement at Bar Pastures survives very well in the north eastern part. The part in the south and west has undergone some disturbance by ploughing, but nevertheless retains archaeological information necessary for an understanding of the site as a whole. The site is particularly valuable as a rare opportunity to study the relationship of the Roman settlement to the earlier occupation of the site during the Iron Age. The monument as a whole will contain evidence for the organisation, development and duration of the settlement during both these periods, and evidence concerning buildings, domestic life, farming practices and the local environment at that time will be preserved in deposits on the building platform, in the enclosures which survive under pasture, and in the infill of ditches and other deeply dug, buried features, such as pits. The site has additional interest as part of a wider landscape of Iron Age and Roman settlements and field systems which has been recorded by means of air photography in the surrounding area.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes part of a settlement of Iron Age and Roman date, with a
drove and associated ditches, rectilinear yards and other enclosures, some of
them containing the remains of buildings, and is located on a gravel terrace
about 1km west of what was at that time the edge of the peat fen. In the
north eastern part of the monument these features survive under pasture, where
the ditches and platforms which define them are visible as low earthworks. To
the south and south west of this, the site is under arable cultivation, but
ditches cut down into the underlying gravel survive as buried features below
the ploughsoil and delineate the further extent of the enclosures and
buildings, revealed in crop marks and recorded by means of air photography.
At least three distinct and apparently unrelated sets of ditches and
enclosures overlap on the site, showing successive changes in the layout and
organisation of the settlement over a period of time.
The upstanding earthworks in the north east part of the monument include a rectangular house platform, up to 0.4m in height above the prevailing ground surface level and measuring c.18m by c.27m, with a ditch c.4m wide around the north eastern end. In the adjacent field (within the part of the monument at present under cultivation) a small, rectangular ditched enclosure has been recorded c.20m to the west of the platform. It is of similar size and proportion and aligned on a parallel axis, and is interpreted as the remains of a second and related building. These features lie within part of a large, ditched enclosure, south of and parallel to a short drove, c.9m wide and bordered along either side by ditches c.3m wide, which runs north east - south west across the northern end of the site. Cutting across the drove, approximately at right angles, is a double ditch defining a boundary or narrow trackway, the ditches being c.2m wide and up to 2m apart, with traces of a low bank along the north side. Another, apparently later ditch, c.5m in width, crosses this feature north-south. All the ditches which survive as visible earthworks have become partly infilled, but remain visible as linear hollows c.0.3m deep in the ground surface.
The buried features to the south and west of the upstanding earthworks include two groups of small enclosures, each interpreted as a farmstead. One of these enclosures, on the south side of the complex, is approached by a short, ditched track and contains a ring ditch, interpreted as the drainage gully around a circular house. The general date and character of the site have been confirmed by finds indicating domestic occupation, including fragments of both Iron Age and Roman pottery, on the surface of the ploughsoil in this area.
Field gates and all boundary fences are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath 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: 20803
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), M.1:B1
CUCAP: RC8-EF 243; CCX9,
Hall, DN, (1993)
RCHME: TF2402/2/290-291, TF2402/13/103-108, TF2402/25/404-411,
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