Iron Age and Roman settlement including a saltern on Hall Meadow


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


Ordnance survey map of Iron Age and Roman settlement including a saltern on Hall Meadow
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Deeping St. James
National Grid Reference:
TF 16357 11484

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 national importance.

The settlement site on Hall Meadow survives very well, with many different component features, including both upstanding earthworks and a substantial depth of archaeological deposits below ground. The site as a whole will retain a wide range of archaeological information concerning the organisation, development and economy of the settlement over a long period of time, and evidence for domestic life, farming practices and local industry will be preserved in deposits in and beneath the mounds and building platforms, in the associated yards, and in the fill of ditches and gullies. Organic materials, including both artefacts and evidence of the local environment at the time, will also be preserved in the waterlogged deeper deposits.

In both the Iron Age and Roman periods, in areas alongside estuaries and tidal waterways, salt extraction, involving the channelling and ponding of salt or brackish tidal water and evaporation by heating in shallow trays over hearths, was an important local industry in the Fens. Such sites are often located by the mounds of debris which the process generated. Most such mounds have been flattened but a few early examples are known to survive as earthworks. On this site the survival, in deep, undisturbed and wet deposits, of evidence relating to this industry during the Iron Age is of particular interest.


The monument includes the site of an Iron Age saltern and settlement of Iron Age and Roman date, located on a naturally undulating surface of alluvial clay deposits which overlie an extensive gravel terrace to the north of the River Welland, in the parish of Deeping St James. It is visible under pasture as a series of earthworks, comprising artificial mounds, rectilinear platforms and shallow gullies or ditches, and it has been dated by finds of pottery fragments from the surface of the pasture and adjacent fields.

The most prominent feature on the site is a large, roughly circular mound, c.60m in diameter and standing to a height of c.1m above the prevailing ground level. Its western edge extends beyond the pasture for a distance of c.6m into the neighbouring field, where it stands up to 0.4m high. To the north and south of this mound, and extending for approximately 200m to the east, are other, lower mounds, of varying form and regularity, and a network of intersecting gullies between 4m and 7m wide and with a visible depth of c.0.3m to c.0.4m. These define rectangular and sub-rectangular enclosures of varying size, some of which contain one or more rectilinear building platforms c.0.4m in height, also surrounded by ditches and with internal dimensions ranging from c.6m by 12m to c.15m by 27m. Some of the gullies and enclosures are aligned on a different axis from others, which suggests that they were constructed at different times and possibly during quite separate periods of occupation. Borehole sampling across the site has shown that archaeological deposits resulting from occupation underlie the surface to a depth of up to 1.5m, and the sampling also revealed a broad ditch or water channel c.18m wide and 2.4m deep to the north of the large mound on the west side of the site, now infilled but surviving as a buried feature and containing waterlogged deposits. The large mound in the western part of the site is considered to have been created during the process of salt manufacture in the Iron Age and Roman periods and some of the nearby gullies and platforms may also relate to this process. Finds from on and around the site include, in addition to pottery, fragments of fired clay of a type which forms the characteristic debris of the salt extraction process.

Excluded from the scheduling are the field gates and all fences, and also two water troughs with supply pipes, 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:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Lane, T, 'Fenland Research' in Excavation And Evaluation Of An I A And R B Site At Market Deeping, , Vol. 7, (1992), 43-47
Dossier for H B M C, Fenland Evaluation Project: Lincolnshire, (1990)


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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