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Roman fort and later Romano-British settlement at Woodbury Farm

List Entry Summary

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 Culture, Media and Sport.

Name: Roman fort and later Romano-British settlement at Woodbury Farm

List entry Number: 1011921

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Devon

District: East Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Axminster

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 01-Nov-1988

Date of most recent amendment: 02-Dec-1994

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22301

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Monument

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

Reasons for Designation

Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army. In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between the mid first and mid second centuries AD. Some were only used for short periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways, towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was a gradual replacement of timber with stone. Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally important.

The Roman fort at Woodbury Farm survives well. Partial excavation of the site, including observation of pipeline trenches, as well as extensive geophysical survey, have enhanced our understanding of the monument and the sequence of occupation, confirming, for example, what was previously suspected from aerial photographs, that the fort was later reused as a settlement, possibly Moridunum, a small town listed in late Roman itineraries. Associated with the settlement, and possibly the main reason for its existence, was a mansio, a building used to accommodate travellers involved with the provincial postal service. This is one of only 13 examples recorded in England and is the most southerly and westerly of that distribution. The fort also lies towards the edge of the south west distribution of forts.

History

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

Details

This monument includes a Roman fort with a second century and later settlement overlying it and extending westwards and an associated stretch of the Fosse Way. The fort lies on the eastern flank of the Axe valley and survives as a square area defined by a ditch up to 18m wide and 1.6m deep. The ditch is visible around the entire circuit of the fort apart from the area in the immediate vicinity of Woodbury Farm where it has been infilled. The interior of the fort measures 144m north east to south west by 132m north west to south east, giving an area of 1.9ha. Within the fort two elongated mounds standing up to 0.3m high may represent building rubble. In the southern half of the fort slight ridges orientated approximately east to west represent the site of a former orchard. Excavations carried out in the north east corner of the fort in 1981 revealed a number of early Roman features including a pond which had been deliberately backfilled in places with large quantities of rubbish including much third and fourth century Roman pottery. Evidence for the later settlement, which grew up beside the Dorchester to Exeter road, was identified initially through aerial photographs. During 1984, for example, photographs revealed a substantial stone building which has since been interpreted as a mansio, a building used to accommodate travellers involved with the provincial postal service. Traces of other associated buildings were also noted in the north western part of the fort on this photograph. Ploughing of this field in recent years has produced Roman artefacts including pottery and metalwork. A pipeline trench cut through the area to the north and west of the fort in 1990 revealed Roman deposits up to 0.6m deep. An early Roman ploughsoil 0.2m deep was overlain by a later Roman level up to 0.4m thick which sealed a variety of Roman features including pits, two roads and boundary ditches. A large number of Roman artefacts including pottery wasters were recovered suggesting that Woodbury may have been a production centre during the third century AD. A further pipeline trench excavated in July 1992 in the area of the northern ditch of the fort and extending in a south westerly direction across the field west of the fort, confirmed the presence of Roman features, including a road and buried soils within 50m of the fort. In 1993 and 1994, two programmes of geophysical work within the fort and the field to the west further demonstrated the presence of archaeological remains. Within the fort the features identified on the earlier aerial photograph were all noted, whilst in the area to the west a system of parallel linear boundaries was demonstrated. In the later Roman period the settlement would have ranked as a small town lying at the junction of the two most important roads in the region. The site is thought to be the town of Moridunum which is listed in late Roman itineraries. The site was abandoned by the end of the fourth century and later reverted to cultivation. The farm buildings, service poles, the slurry pit, fence posts and modern metalled surfaces are excluded from the scheduling but the ground below is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Cole, M, Woodbury Farm, Axminster, Devon. Geophysical Survey, Feb 1994, (1994)
Collingwood, RG, Richmond, I, The Archaeology of Roman Britain, (1969), 5
Henderson, C G, Simpson, S J, Archaeological Investigations at Woodbury Great Close, Axminster, (1990)
Linford, N, Woodbury Farm, Axminster, Devon. Geophysical Survey, Feb 1994, (1994)
Silvester, R J, Bidwell, P T, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site at Woodbury, Axminster, , Vol. 42, (1984), 33-57
Silvester, R J, Griffith, F M, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site at Woodbury, Axminster - Addendum, , Vol. 42, (1984), 53
Silvester, R J, Griffith, F M, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site at Woodbury, Axminster - Addendum, , Vol. 42, (1984), 33-57
Silvester, R J, Griffith, F M, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site at Woodbury, Axminster - Addendum, , Vol. 42, (1984), 54-56
Silvester, R J, Griffith, F M, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site at Woodbury, Axminster - Addendum, , Vol. 42, (1984), 54-55
Silvester, R J, Griffith, F M, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site at Woodbury, Axminster - Addendum, , Vol. 42, (1984), 54-56
Weddell, P, 'EMAFU Report' in Archaeological Appraisal of Potential Development Areas etc., , Vol. 91.14, (1991), 6
Other
AM Laboratory Report 88/93, Linford, N., Woodbury Farm, Axminster, Devon. Interim Report on Geophysical..., (1993)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SY29NE33,

National Grid Reference: SY 29756 97413

Map

Map
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The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1011921 .pdf

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End of official listing