Two sections of a Roman road on Ot Moor

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015169

Date first listed: 02-Jan-1997

Map

Ordnance survey map of Two sections of a Roman road on Ot Moor
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Location

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

County: Oxfordshire

District: Cherwell (District Authority)

Parish: Fencott and Murcott

County: Oxfordshire

District: South Oxfordshire (District Authority)

Parish: Beckley and Stowood

National Grid Reference: SP 57137 12862, SP 57214 14242

Summary

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

Reasons for Designation

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150 miles per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside 'mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles on major roads) and stopping overnight at 'mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles). In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south- west of the country, Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high proportion of examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be worthy of protection.

The two sections of Roman road on Ot Moor are among the best preserved sections of the road from Alchester to Dorchester. It is known from part excavations at Fencott that archaeological and environmental remains relating to the construction and use of the road will survive buried below the present ground level.

The road is now used as a public footpath.

History

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

Details

The monument includes two sections of a Roman road situated on Ot Moor. The road runs roughly north-south from Alchester to Dorchester and is still in use as a public right of way.

The road, which survives as a low earthwork across most of the moor, is known from part excavations further north and from visible surface evidence, to have had a limestone surfaced carriageway which was cambered, much like a modern road.

The road carriageway varies in width from 14m to 16m across although the sections across Ot Moor appear to have been built with a consistent width of c.14m. The carriageway itself still stands up to 0.6m high in many places. Either side of the carriageway are flanking quarry ditches c.1.5m wide and originally up to 1.2m deep. These are still visible at ground level in many places, particularly to the west where the ditch has been reused. The eastern ditch has been largely infilled over the years but is visible as a shallow depression c.0.2m deep. In addition to providing turf and some sand for the road construction, the ditches provided drainage for the road, delineated the edge of the route and would have provided some security for those travelling along it.

The stretch of road across Ot Moor is broken into two sections by a water filled area of land which is known as the Pill. This is thought to be a later feature than the road and as such it is unlikely that evidence of the road survives here.

The northern road section measures 500m in length and runs south from the junction of the lane from Oddington with the lane north to Fencott. Its southern end is formed by the edge of the Pill. The southern section starts 110m to the south, on the southern edge of the Pill. This section runs straight to the south for a distance of 820m to a point where it bends slightly to the south west. It then runs 450m further as a visible earthwork. Excavation of a wooden bridge found during dredging of the river at Fencott, provided material for dating. This showed that the trees used in its construction were cut in c.AD 95.

Excluded from the scheduling are the post and wire fence lines which cross it, the surface of the modern road to the butts and a concrete bridge crossing the drain, along with the drain itself, although the land beneath all of these is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 28140

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

Books and journals
Chambers, R, 'Oxoniensia' in Roman Road, , Vol. LI, (1986), 193
Other
PRN 8923 and detailed files, C.A.O., Roman Road - Alchester to Dorchester, (1993)
Title: Ordnance Survey Landranger Source Date: 1989 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Sheet 164
With MPPA and English Nature Officer, SMITH, P, On site discussion of local natural history, (1995)

End of official listing