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Okehampton Roman fort, fortlet and associated enclosures

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: Okehampton Roman fort, fortlet and associated enclosures

List entry Number: 1015829

Location

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

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Okehampton

County: Devon

District: West Devon

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Okehampton Hamlets

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 14-Feb-1978

Date of most recent amendment: 13-Nov-1996

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28620

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.





Lying immediately next to the Okehampton Roman fort is a fortlet. Roman fortlets are small rectangular enclosures with rounded corners defined by a fortified rampart of turf and earth with one or more outer ditches. The ramparts were originally revetted at the front and rear by timber uprights in shallow trenches and were almost certainly crowned with timber wall walks and parapets. Fortlets were constructed from the first century AD to at least the later fourth century AD to provide accommodation for a small detachment of troops generally deployed on a temporary basis between one to two years and supplied by a fort in the same area. The function of fortlets varies from place to place; some were positioned to guard river crossings or roads, particularly at vulnerable points such as crossroads, whilst others acted as supply bases for signal towers. Roman fortlets are rare nationally with approximately 50 examples known in Britain, half of which are located in Scotland. As such, and as one of a small group of Roman military monuments which are important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, fortlets are of particular significance to our understanding of the period and all surviving examples are considered nationally important. The enclosures north of the fort are in close association with the Roman features, and they may be the remains of an extra-mural settlement. They are of national importance by virtue of their close association with the other Roman structures.

History

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

Details





This monument includes a Roman fort and a series of five associated enclosures on a hilltop location overlooking the valley of the River Okement to the north west and Okehampton town to the south west. The central feature of the monument is the fort itself, which is a rectangular enclosure with rounded corners. The fort's interior measures 133m long from north east to south west and 108m wide from east to west. The ramparts of the fort survive as banks. The western rampart measures 13.8m wide and 0.6m high. The eastern rampart is 6.9m wide and 0.5m high. To the north it measures 5.7m wide and 0.2m high and to the south it measures 6.15m wide by 0.4m high. The double ditches revealed by aerial reconnaissance survive as buried features. Excavations have confirmed the military origin of the fort and suggested occupation in the period AD 50-80. The ditches are V-shaped with a cleaning slot at the base, and there is a revetment behind the rampart and an intervallum. In 1984 three ovens and a small part of the northern rampart were revealed and recorded, and aerial photographs have indicated the existence of metalled internal streets within the fort. To the south west of the fort lies a second enclosure of Roman military type which has also been identified by aerial photographs. This feature is interpreted as a fortlet. It is square in shape with rounded corners and measures 50m square. It survives as a buried ditched feature and has been cut on its eastern side by an electricity substation and to the south east by a field boundary. Ten metres to the north west of the fortlet and 32m WSW of the fort is a small L-shaped enclosure which was also identified from aerial photographs and survives as a buried ditched feature. It lies on the same alignment as the fort itself. It measures 22m from east to west and 22m from south west to north east. Twenty eight metres to the north east of the fort is a series of three enclosures. Two of these overlap each other. The westernmost two of the three partly underlie a field boundary, whilst the easternmost one lies in the same field as the fort. The westernmost and largest of the three survives as a small earthwork in the form of a slightly raised platform with a maximum height of 0.4m to the south of the field boundary, although to the north it is preserved as a buried ditch. This enclosure measures 65m from north east to south west and 62m from east to west and has rounded corners. The central enclosure is rectangular and survives only as a buried ditched feature. It measures 46m from east to west and 38m from north to south. The easternmost enclosure is subcircular in shape, and measures 30m from east to west and 28m from north to south and is also preserved only as a buried ditched feature. All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Griffith, F, Roman Military Sites In Devon: Some Recent Discoveries, (1984), 11-13
Balkwill, C J, 'Devon Archaeological Society Proceedings' in A Roman Site At Okehampton, , Vol. 34, (1976), 89-92
Bidwell, P T, Silvester, R, 'Britannia' in The Roman Fort at Okehampton, Devon, , Vol. 10, (1979), 255-8
Other
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59NE2, (1993)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59NE72, (1990)
Devon County Sites and Monuments Register, SX59NE73, (1989)
MPP fieldwork by H. Gerrard, (1995)

National Grid Reference: SX 59649 96068

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 - 1015829 .pdf

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This copy shows the entry on 13-Dec-2017 at 10:45:47.

End of official listing