Romano-British settlement, earthwork enclosure and a section of the Fosse Way, 415m west of Whatley Manor


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Location Description:
Centred on NGR ST 88978 87118
Statutory Address:
Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire


Ordnance survey map of Romano-British settlement, earthwork enclosure and a section of the Fosse Way, 415m west of Whatley Manor
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Statutory Address:
Easton Grey, Malmesbury, Wiltshire

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Location Description:
Centred on NGR ST 88978 87118
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
Easton Grey
Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


The monument includes the earthwork and buried remains of an extensive Roman roadside settlement together with an enclosure of prehistoric or Roman date, and a section of Roman road known as the Fosse Way.

Reasons for Designation

The Roman-British settlement, the earthwork enclosure and a section of the Fosse Way to the east and south-east of Easton Grey is scheduled for the following principal reasons: * Survival: despite much of the site being under cultivation, archaeological features survive as buried deposits and also as earthworks, and it will retain considerable evidence for the occupation of this area prior to and during the Roman period; * Potential: archaeological investigations have indicated that the site retains valuable information relating to the development of the settlement and this will also facilitate further studies of the social and economic organisation of the area during the Roman period, while the section of Roman road will provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills; * Documentation: the site is quite well-documented having been subject to research and aerial photographic survey; * Group value: the inter-relationship of the different elements within this landscape enhances the national importance of the monument as a whole.


Romano-British settlements began to emerge in the mid-first century AD. However, the majority of larger settlements appeared in the later first and second centuries, whilst the third and fourth centuries saw the growth and development of existing establishments, together with the emergence of a small number of new ones. Some have their origins in earlier military sites and developed into independent settlements following the abandonment of forts. Others developed alongside roads and were able to exploit a wide range of commercial opportunities as a result of their location.

Settlements vary enormously in type and size. Romano-British farmsteads, typified by rectilinear or curvilinear enclosures, were the most numerous and existed prior to and throughout the Roman period. Other small-scale nucleated settlements include compact villages which comprise much more extensive spreads of settlement activity; and linear villages or 'ladder' settlements which are dominated by a single axis street or trackway. Additionally there are sites that are perhaps best regarded as 'rural' but which display what may be termed 'urban' attributes. This is especially the case with the large number of roadside settlements, that focus on major and other Roman roads and display elements of planning that morphologically set them apart; not only did such settlements draw their existence from rural activities such as farming, but also acted as local foci for trade and, where possible, exploiting their location on the road.

The existence of a Roman settlement to the south-east of Easton Grey has been recognised since 1791 when the antiquarian Collinson noted the area as the location of the ‘ancient city of Whitewalls’ and referred to the presence of possible ramparts, four gates, building foundations and a tessellated pavement. It is located to either side of the Fosse Way, a Roman road which was established during the first phase of the Roman occupation and linked Exeter and Lincoln. The settlement is situated about halfway between Bath and Cirencester, and finds such as pottery and coinage recovered from the area indicate that it was occupied from the first to the fourth centuries AD. Sir Richard Colt Hoare described the site in 1821 as a Roman posting station or mansio (specifically for the use of those using the imperial post, for rest and refreshment of personnel and mounts), and suggested that it may be the Roman town of Mutuantonis, although this identification is now considered incorrect (Corney, see Sources). Colt Hoare published a survey plan of the area which depicted earthworks, including a series of rectilinear features, probably enclosures or buildings, and the possible remains of town defences, to the west and east of the Fosse Way and on both sides of the Sherston branch of the River Avon. Much of the site is now under cultivation, but there are surviving earthworks immediately to the north-west of the river which were surveyed in 1997 (Royal Commission of Historical Monuments of England). These include a series of lynchets which are overlaid by the later Roman settlement, providing evidence of pre-Roman, possibly Late Iron Age, activity at the site. During the early C21, transcriptions of aerial photographs (Corney in Roman Wiltshire and After, and the National Mapping Project) recorded archaeological features within an area 1.5km long and over 700m wide and confirm Colt Hoare’s early-C19 survey of the settlement as well as demonstrating that the settlement extends further to the south. Archaeological investigations, including a magnetometer survey and a watching brief, during maintenance work on a water main in 2005 and the laying of a new main in 2014 respectively; to the south of the river have provided further evidence of Roman features and artefacts in this area.

To the north-west of the Roman settlement is a square enclosure, known as Whitewalls, which has previously been described as a medieval moated site. It is depicted on historic Ordnance Survey maps of 1900 and 1921 as a ‘supposed’ Roman camp, and its form would suggest that it is probably of late prehistoric or Roman date.



The monument includes an extensive Roman roadside settlement which survives as both earthworks and buried deposits, together with an enclosure of probable prehistoric or Roman date, and a length of a Roman road known as the Fosse Way. It is situated approximately 1km south-east of Easton Grey on the floodplain of the Sherston branch of the River Avon. Archaeological remains, mostly buried deposits, are present to the north and south of the river, and to either side of the Fosse Way.


The monument is evident as a complex series of cropmarks covering a number of fields in an area of approximately 23.5ha. It has not been the subject of any large-scale investigation, but it has good aerial photographic coverage and several watching briefs and geophysical survey have been carried out in some parts of the site which collectively provide considerable information about the form and function of the Roman settlement. Numerous contemporary finds, although mostly unstratified, have been recovered or reported from the area and indicate that it was occupied between the 1st and 4th centuries AD. Artefacts include Romano-British coinage, brooch fragments, rings, tile and pottery such as imported wares, samian, coarse wares and amphorae, tile. In addition two fragments of Roman sculpture (one now lost) are also known and may depict female deities.

The settlement extends for approximately a kilometre along the Fosse Way which bisects the site on a north-east to south-west alignment and survives as a green lane. In 1931 an excavation across a section of the Roman road on the north side of the river revealed that it comprised a surface of small slabs resting on 0.3m of rubble which in turn rested on 22cms of dark brown sand. The depth of its foundations increased significantly as the road approached the river bank and perhaps indicative of a causeway and that the road crossed the river via a bridge (Passmore, see Sources).

The Fosse Way served as the principal axis route along which the settlement developed and around which all activity was focussed. To the west of the road, and north of the river, is an area of fields which are defined by lynchets, and possible drainage ditches and trackways which extend eastwards beyond the line of the Roman road which they pre-date, providing evidence of possible Late Iron Age activity. These features are overlaid by a series terraced platforms, the latter measuring up to 30m long and 6-15m wide, which may represent buildings and garden plots characteristic of a Romano-British village. In addition, a ditch and bank was also recorded running north-east to south-west alongside a hollow way which runs parallel with the Roman road. Finds recovered from this area include Romano-British pottery and roof tiles. A series of cropmarks, including linear and rectangular features, immediately to the north, in a field marked as Park Hill on Colt Hoare’s plan, and extensive spreads of Roman pottery provides further evidence of the Roman settlement to the west of the Fosse Way. To the east, on the opposite side of the road, the cropmarks appear in relatively high density and attest to the survival of Roman deposits in this area. There is clear evidence here for a regular arrangement of buildings and tracks or streets, both parallel and axial to the Fosse Way, which may represent a more formal sector of the settlement. Further to the east are more irregular features, possibly boundary ditches, but is unclear whether they prehistoric or Roman.

To the south of the river, cropmarks on the west side of the Fosse Way show a regular arrangement of rectilinear ditched enclosures and possible structures. They are parallel with the line of the Roman road and are probably indicative of ribbon development along its route. Early-C21 investigations to the east of the Fosse Way have uncovered evidence of shallow and well-preserved archaeological deposits of probable Roman date in this location. A watching brief in 2014 along a narrow strip of land on the east side of the Fosse Way revealed wall foundations, one or two small pottery kilns and associated industrial surfaces, pits, and linear features including a track or ditch and a boundary ditch. Artefacts recovered included a quantity of Roman pottery, coins, a dress pin, a bone pin and a number of iron objects. Some of the stratified pottery and two of the coins appeared to date from the 3rd-4th century AD. There is also cropmark evidence of pre-Roman activity to the south of the river, including a small trapezoidal enclosure and several linear ditched features which are visible on both sides of the Fosse Way but on a different (north-south) alignment to the Roman remains.

To the north-west of the settlement, within Whitewalls Wood, is an earthwork enclosure which has not been the subject of archaeological investigations. It takes the form of a roughly square platform, measuring some 80m across, on a south-facing slight slope. It appears to be aligned with pre-Roman features in the area, but the possibility of it being of Roman date cannot be ruled out.


All fence posts, gates and gate posts, interpretation boards, the bridge over the River Avon, the stone retaining walls to the river bank, the water pipeline and its supports where it crosses the river, the modern surfaces of the Fosse Way, the bird enclosures in Whitewalls Wood, telegraph and electricity poles, and the concrete road blocks are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features is, however, included. number of modern features are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features, however, is included.


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

Legacy System number:
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Books and journals
Colt Hoare, R, History of Ancient Wiltshire: Volume II, (1821), 100-101
Ellis, P (editor), Roman Wiltshire and After, Papers in Honour of Ken Annable, (2001), 23-29
Passmore, A D, 'Roman Remains from Easton Grey' in The Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History Magazine , , Vol. XLVI, (1934), 270-272
Archaeological Surveys Ltd, August 2014, Water Main Replacement Access adjacent to the Fosse Way, Norton, Wiltshire. Magnetometer Survey Report for Wiltshire Council Archaeology Service
Border Archaeology, Shipton Moyne to Tolldown Pipeline Scheme: Provisional Summary of Results along Fosse Way Section (Field 18 – Foxley Park) as of 10th July 2014, unpublished
Cotswold Archaeology, March 2006, Works to Existing Water Main, Easton Grey, Wiltshire. Programme of Archaeological Recording for Bristol Water plc
Gloucestershire County Council and English Heritage, 2011, An Archaeological Aerial Survey in the Cotswold Hills: A Report for the National Mapping Programme
Wiltshire County Archaeology Service, 2004, The Archaeology of Wiltshire’s Towns, An Extensive Urban Survey, Easton Grey


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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