Roman field system and drove at Pode Hole Farm


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1015503

Date first listed: 19-Sep-1996


Ordnance survey map of Roman field system and drove at Pode Hole Farm
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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 - 1015503 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 22-Feb-2019 at 18:10:04.


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

District: City of Peterborough (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Thorney

National Grid Reference: TF 26272 03773

Reasons for Designation

During the Roman period, particularly during the second century AD, the fen silts and areas bordering the peat fens were extensively and often densely occupied and farmed. The Roman field systems in the Fenland were often laid out around or between small settlements of no more than a few farmsteads, although some may reflect land division and land management on a more widely organised scale. Sometimes they may be associated with a major landscape feature, such as a road or canal. They comprised more or less regular blocks of rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures, often aligned along and linked by droves and sometimes covering large areas, although most are less than 200ha in extent. Both fields and droves were defined by ditches, sometimes with adjoining banks, which may remain visible on the ground as earthworks. The field systems are, however, recognisable primarily through air photography in which the rectilinear pattern shows up in crop marks, soil marks or relief lines. The pattern of the fields and droves in the Fens suggests a concern chiefly with stock management, although arable agriculture will also have played some part. Many field systems have been recorded in the region, and although almost all have been levelled by later agriculture, many of the levelled systems will nevertheless retain archaeological features of national importance. These, and all field systems which retain identifiable upstanding earthworks, are considered to be worthy of protection.

The earthworks at Pode Hole Farm survive very well and include a good range of different features. Archaeological information concerning the organisation and use of the field system as a whole, including evidence of farming practice on the site and of the local environment at that time, will be contained in the fill of the ditches bordering the drove and enclosures, in deposits beneath the surface of the enclosures, and in and beneath the field banks and building platforms. The building platforms will also preserve rare evidence of associated agricultural structures


The monument includes part of a Roman drove, with an associated field system and enclosures containing building platforms which survive as upstanding earthworks. They are located to the west of Thorney village, on a gravel terrace which, during the Roman period, was close to the western edge of the peat fen.

In the north eastern part of the site are the remains of two rectangular earthen platforms, raised approximately 0.3m above the prevailing ground surface, whose original dimensions were in the order of 18m-20m by 15m. These are interpreted as the sites of buildings. The drove runs eastwards from these for a distance of approximately 93m, then turns north, defining two sides of a rectilinear enclosure. It is visible as a broad, linear hollow approximately 0.4m deep in the ground surface and 9m wide, within which are slight traces of two ditches, now largely infilled, to either side of the central track. Approximately 80m south of this, and following a parallel east-west course, are traces of two ditches, set 4m apart and defining what appears to be a second drove. The building platforms and droves are the focus of a series of regularly planned fields and enclosures which extend to the east and south and are of varying size, ranging from approximately 30m to 140m in width east-west. They are defined by a rectilinear network of ditches which is connected to the droves and follows the same alignment, and by low earthen banks which may have been planted with hedges. The ditches are visible as linear hollows 3m-4m wide and approximately 0.3m deep. A number of later ditches, visible as slight, linear hollows, cut across this system on a north west - south east alignment, similar to that of the modern ditch boundaries.

The earthworks were at the heart of a field system, the remains of which are revealed by crop marks and have been recorded by means of air photography, extending across adjacent arable fields and covering an area of at least 24ha. This part of the site defined by crop marks is, however, excluded from the scheduling.

Farm buildings and associated yard surfaces on the western side are excluded from the scheduling, as are a water trough and supply pipe and all field boundary fences and gates, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

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


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

Legacy System number: 20802

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hall, D N, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 2: Cambridgeshire, Peterborough to March, , Vol. 35, (1987), 66
Plot of Air Photographs at 1:10000, Hall, D N & Palmer, R, Fenland Evaluation Project: Cambridgeshire, Thorney 8, (1990)

End of official listing