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Rothamsted Romano-British cemetery

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: Rothamsted Romano-British cemetery

List entry Number: 1018377

Location

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

County: Hertfordshire

District: St. Albans

District Type: District Authority

Parish: Harpenden Rural

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 01-Jan-1938

Date of most recent amendment: 23-Feb-1998

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 27903

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

The Romano-British cemetery at Rothamsted is a rare example of an enclosed burial ground thought to have been constructed for the exclusive use of a high status family during the 2nd century AD. Limited archaeological investigations have demonstrated the ground plan of the cemetery and the central mausoleum but have left most of the enclosed area undisturbed. The structures revealed by the excavation have been preserved above and below ground. Significant archaeological deposits, including further funerary remains, will be retained within the unexcavated cemetery area. These will provide additional evidence relating to the dating and period of use of the cemetery and to the religious beliefs and practices of the people interred here. Environmental evidence preserved within these features may illustrate the nature of the landscape in which the monument was set. The site is known to have been used during the Late Iron Age, and the undisturbed portions of the cemetery may contain further features from this period which will illuminate its function prior to the Roman occupation.

History

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

Details

The monument includes the visible and buried remains of a Romano-British cemetery located on a broad plateau above and to the north east of the River Ver, immediately north west of the Rothamsted Experimental Farm. Although the site, formerly covered by a copse known as Collye Grove, was traditionally associated with the Roman period, it was not investigated until 1936-37 when part excavation revealed part of an enclosure approximately 30.48m square, defined by the foundations of a flint rubble and clay wall some 0.8m thick. This wall was bounded on three sides by an external berm and ditch. On the fourth - south eastern - side, there was evidence for an entrance way and for a trackway leading to the enclosure. Two cremation burials were discovered, situated close to the south eastern and south western walls. The assemblage and accompanying grave goods of the south western burial included an urn, three flagons, a samian dish and sherds of a castor ware cup, enabling the group to be dated to the second quarter of the 2nd century AD. The second assemblage consisted of an urn, one flagon and a similar samian dish, and was considered to be slightly earlier than the first burial, being dated to approximately AD 100-125. Excavation also revealed the mortared flint foundations of a mausoleum at the centre of the enclosure. This was a circular building about 5.5m in diameter with two solid pilasters projecting from the north eastern elevation, presumably flanking a doorway. A partition wall built across the south western arc of the structure would have formed a niche behind an altar or altar tomb, the base of which is located in the centre of the building remains. It is thought that the niche contained a statue, fragments of which were recovered from debris in this area. Although essentially a tomb, the mausoleum may have provided a setting for religious rituals associated with offerings for and on behalf of the deceased (whose remains were not discovered), although the internal space would have been too limited to allow access for more than one individual. The thickness of the foundations (about 1.1m) suggests that the walls of the mausoleum may have stood to a height of about 6m, probably capped by a tiled roof, and perhaps resembling the tower-like Roman tombs known in Spain and southern France. The cemetery is thought to represent the private burial ground of a high status family living in the area during the 2nd century AD. The excavations indicated three funerary deposits but, since the whole of the cemetery area was not investigated, it is considered that further cremations will remain undisturbed beneath the present ground surface. During the course of the excavations the remnants of a ditch, 0.7m wide, were uncovered. That this ditch was already silted up when the mausoleum was built was demonstrated by the fact that the foundations of the western arc were cut into its fill. The silts contained fragments of Late Iron Age pottery and one worked flint flake, and a small quantity of similar pottery was recovered from the surface of the subsoil in other parts of the site. The extent and function of the ditch are not known but it may be inferred that it had fallen into disuse well before its appropriation as a Roman burial ground. Apart from a small area to the north east, the foundations of the enclosure wall and the mausoleum have been consolidated and are displayed within an area of grassland. The north eastern corner of the cemetery is preserved beneath a trackway and a ploughed field. All fences and fence posts are excluded from the scheduling together with the made surface of the track, although the ground beneath them is included.

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

Selected Sources

Books and journals
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 109-110
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 112-113
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 113
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 108
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 114
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 110
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 108-14
Lowther, A W G, 'Transactions of St Albans Archit & Archaeological Society' in Excavation of the Roman Structure at Rothamsted Exp. Station, , Vol. 5, (1938), 114

National Grid Reference: TL 11987 13726

Map

Map
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End of official listing