Lee's Rest Earthwork: a probable Romano-Celtic temple 200m north east of Lee's Rest Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1011226

Date first listed: 12-Aug-1949

Date of most recent amendment: 30-Mar-1994


Ordnance survey map of Lee's Rest Earthwork: a probable Romano-Celtic temple 200m north east of Lee's Rest Farm
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Oxfordshire

District: West Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Charlbury

National Grid Reference: SP 37813 19315


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

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 importance.

The Lee's Rest earthwork has been well recorded by aerial photography and geophysical survey and, despite partial levelling by cultivation, it survives well and is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, and the landscape in which it was built.


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


The monument includes a triple ditched Romano-British enclosure, interpreted as a Romano-Celtic temple, and situated 200m north east of Lee's Rest Farm. The site occupies a gently sloping promontory which overlooks the valley of the River Evenlode, 2km to the south. The southern part of the monument, where it lies within woodland, appears as a series of low earthworks; elsewhere it survives in the form of buried remains, the extent of which have recently been defined by a geophysical survey. The enclosure is square and includes an internal area 40m across surrounded by three ditches which, from the inside out, measure 3m, 7m and 7.5m across respectively. All three ditches are interrupted by a single entrance causeway which approaches the site in the middle of the enclosure's south east facing side. Partial excavations across the ditches in 1960 by R Linington unearthed finds, including quantities of Romano-British pottery sherds, fragments of Roman tile and what is described as a 'fine bronze figurine'. Finds of Roman pottery and Roman coins are also regularly made when the surrounding fields are ploughed. Some 20m south of the monument is a spring. Such springs were often chosen as the sites for Celtic shrines. Based on the distinctive triple ditch construction of the monument, its setting and the associated finds, it is believed that this is a Romano-Celtic temple site, serving the local Romano-British population who are known to have intensively farmed the area from a number of villa sites distributed along the valley of the River Evenlode. Excluded from the scheduling is the boundary fence which crosses the north west corner of the monument but the ground beneath is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 3 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: 21787

Legacy System: RSM


AM Lab GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY, Payne, A, Lees Rest Enclosures, (1992)
Discussion with IAM S.Trow by phone, Jeffery, PP, Nature of Site, (1992)
Discussion with Mrs Potter on site, Jeffery, PP, Site Details, Management etc, (1992)
DOE letter to owner on /1 file, RUMLEY, N., LEES REST ENCLOSURE EXCAVATIONS 1960, (1970)
NMR SP3719/1-2, Allen, Allen Collection, (1934)
Owner stated finds in Ashmolean, Jeffery, P.P., Richard Linnington 1960 Excavations, (1992)
References to SMC and field visits, Armstrong, L., AM 107, (1992)

End of official listing