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Romano-Celtic temple and associated remains at Jordan Hill

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: Romano-Celtic temple and associated remains at Jordan Hill

List entry Number: 1013371

Location

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

County: Dorset

District: Weymouth and Portland

District Type: District Authority

Parish:

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 09-Oct-1981

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Apr-1996

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 22960

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

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 Romano-Celtic temple and associated features at Jordan Hill survive largely in the form of buried remains. Where these have been partly excavated they have been found to include archaeological and environmental evidence relating to ritual and ceremonial activity in the form of human burial and votive deposition. Surviving buried remains will further contribute to our understanding of the monument and the nature of activity that occurred there.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a Romano-Celtic temple and associated remains situated on the South Dorset Downs on Jordan Hill, a south-facing chalk ridge overlooking Weymouth Bay to the south. The site was first excavated by J Medhurst during the spring of 1843, when much of the interior of a structure was uncovered. Further excavations were conducted by C D Drew and C S Prideaux during 1931-32, in order to clarify the form and extent of the structural remains. The excavations suggest that the earliest feature at the site was a large pit, which underlay the south eastern corner of a later structure. The pit had maximum dimensions of 1.2m by 0.9m and a depth of c.3.65m, its sides were lined with roofing slabs set in clay. The fill consisted of 16 layers of ash and charcoal, separated by layers of roofing slabs arranged in pairs. Between each pair of tiles were the bones of a single bird and a small bronze coin. The bird bones included buzzard, raven, starling and crow; the coins included an example belonging to the Theodosian period (AD 379-395). There were also two stone cists within the fills of the pit. The earliest, situated at the base, contained two urns, a sword, a spearhead, a knife, steelyard, bucket handle, crook and other iron objects. The second cist was situated approximately halfway within the fills and contained urns, a sword and a spearhead. The coins recovered during the excavations suggest that the shaft was constructed during the earlier Roman period (AD 69-79) and that it was eventually sealed during the Theodosian period (AD 379-395). The nature of the deposits from the shaft identify it as having a ceremonial or ritual purpose. Overlying the shaft was a structure interpreted as the cella of a Romano- Celtic temple. This was defined by stone footings up to 2.9m wide, enclosing an area 6.8m square. Charles Warne recorded in 1844 that Roman pottery and coins were recovered from within this area. Traces of a thin concrete surface bounded the external sides of the wall and are known to have been 3m wide to the south and 2.7m wide to the east. This concrete surface may have formed the pavement for a structure adjacent to the wall, such as a colonnade or portico. A limestone base and Purbeck marble Tuscan capital were recovered during the excavations and these suggest the use of columns c.1.7m high. A record of the site in 1843 suggests that there was an entrance in the centre of the southern wall indicated by stone steps. These foundations are reported to have been located centrally within an outer square enclosure which was defined by stone walls 1.5m wide, although this has not been recognised since. Warne recorded this wider enclosure to have been 84m square and suggested that it produced most of the finds recovered from the site. These include many animal bones, numerous bull horns, Roman pottery and some 300 Roman coins, mainly from the period of the late Empire, including an example belonging to the period of Arcadius (AD 383-408). During the later excavations between 1931-32, a further 177 coins were recovered; 61 of these belonged to the period AD 388-395, but others dated from the pre-Roman Iron Age and from the early Roman period, illustrating the earlier ancestry of the site. The site was entrusted into the care of the State in 1933 and there is open public access. The structure is now marked by intermittent stone footings 1.8m wide and c.0.3m high and a gravel surface which defines the course of the wall foundations of the building. The site of the Romano-Celtic temple is associated with a number of other Roman remains within the area. Approximately 90m to the south east of the Romano-Celtic temple is a cemetery which was partially excavated by Medhurst between 1845-46. It is thought that 40-50 urns were recovered and around 90 skeletons were identified within the cemetery. These are known to have included both cremations and inhumations, one of which was contained within a wooden coffin. The cemetery was enclosed by a low wall and during the 19th century it had the appearance of a slightly raised area. The cemetery is thought to extend over an area of approximately 150m. Excluded from the scheduling are all posts and gates relating to the modern field boundaries, although the underlying ground is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Historical Monuments in the County of Dorset: Volume I, (1970), 617-8
Warne, C, 'Romano-British Remains' in Preston, near Weymouth, , Vol. Part 1, (1884), 185
Warne, C, 'Romano-British Remains' in Preston, near Weymouth, , Vol. Part 1, (1884), 185
Warne, C, 'Romano-British Remains' in Preston, near Weymouth, , Vol. Part 1, (1884), 185
Other
Mention cremations and inhumations,
Mention enclosing wall/ raised area,
Mention stratigraphy destroyed 1843, Champion, S T, (1985)

National Grid Reference: SY 69892 82069

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2017 at 02:53:38.

End of official listing