Roman settlement by Fen Road, south of Poplar Farm


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


Ordnance survey map of Roman settlement by Fen Road, south of Poplar Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Kesteven (District Authority)
Pointon and Sempringham
National Grid Reference:
TF 15817 31375

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 Roman settlement south of Poplar Farm survives very well in the eastern part. The western part, which is under cultivation, also retains valuable archaeological information necessary for an understanding of the site as a whole. The monument will contain evidence for the organisation, development and duration of the settlement, and a wide range of 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 yards and enclosures which survive under pasture, and in the infill of the ditches and other deeply dug, buried features such as pits. The site has additional interest as part of an extensive landscape of settlements, droves and field systems which has been recorded by means of air photography in the surrounding area.


The monument includes the site of a small Roman settlement, located on the silt of a wide roddon (extinct watercourse) in a fen deposit of marine clay, and comprising two or three farmsteads, with associated yards and paddocks, laid out to either side of a drove. The eastern half of the site survives under pasture, in which the platforms and ditches which define buildings, yards and other enclosures are visible as earthworks. In the western half of the site, where the earthworks have been levelled by arable cultivation, the pattern of the underlying ditches is traceable in soil marks which have been recorded by means of air photography.

The drove, which is the focus of the site, runs diagonally south east - north west, following a zigzag course around rectilinear enclosure boundaries. In the eastern part of the site, it is visible as a hollow way, c.13m wide and 0.4m deep below the surface of the enclosures to either side, flanked by linear hollows marking ditches which have become largely infilled. To north and south of the drove and aligned roughly in relation, are the farmsteads, each comprising one or more small sub-rectangular enclosures contained within and adjacent to a series of larger, rectilinear yards and small fields. Both large and small enclosures are bounded by intersecting ditches which, where they survive as visible earthworks, appear as linear hollows c.4m wide, open to a depth of from c.0.25m to c.0.5m. One of the smaller enclosures, which survives as an upstanding earthwork to the south of the drove, contains a building platform measuring c.17m square, surrounded by a substantial ditch c.5m wide, and there are at least four other enclosures of similar size to the west and north west of this, visible as crop marks, which will also have been occupied by buildings. Sherds of Roman pottery and other finds relating to domestic occupation have been recovered from the ploughsoil surface above two of them.

All field gates and 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:
Legacy System:


Dossier for H B M C, Fenland Evaluation Project: Lincolnshire, (1990)
NMR TF 1631/2/46,


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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