The Chessalls Roman town
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
- Date of most recent amendment:
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Jul-2019 at 21:25:25.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Cotswold (District Authority)
- Stroud (District Authority)
- National Grid Reference:
- ST 80720 95862
Reasons for Designation
Five types of town are known to have existed in Roman Britain: coloniae,
municipia, civitas capitals, Roman provincial capitals and Roman small towns.
The first four types can be classified as `public towns' because each had an
official status within the provincial administrative system.
Roman small towns are settlements of urban character which lack the
administrative status of public towns, but which are nevertheless recognisably
urban in terms of morphology, features and function. They tend to lack the
planned rectangular street grids, public buildings and well-appointed town
houses of the public towns and instead are generally characterised by mainly
insubstantial timber or half-timbered structures. Some small towns possess an
enclosing wall, while others have masonry or earthwork defences. Additional
features include temples, bath houses, ovens, kilns and cemeteries.
Roman small towns began to emerge in the mid-first century AD. However, the
majority of examples appeared in the later first and second centuries, while
the third and fourth centuries saw the growth and development of existing
establishments, together with the emergence of a small number of new ones.
Some small towns had their origins in earlier military sites such as fort-vici
and developed into independent urban areas following the abandonment of the
forts. Others developed alongside major roads and were able to exploit a wide
range of commercial opportunities as a result of their location. There are a
total of 133 Roman small towns recorded in England. These are mainly
concentrated in the Midlands and central southern England. Some examples have
survived as undeveloped `greenfield' sites and consequently possess
particularly well-preserved archaeological remains.
The Roman settlement known as The Chessells survives well and is unusual in that it does not lie close to any of the known Roman roads. There is evidence for agricultural and religious activity and settlement at the site, dating from the first to fourth centuries AD, but no evidence for continuity of occupation into the early medieval period.
The monument includes the recorded extent of a Roman town of about 30ha within
which significant evidence for Roman activity has been recognised from aerial
photographs and limited excavations. The Roman settlement site lies 18kms WSW
of Cirencester, and about 1km south west of the modern village of Kingscote,
occupying both sides of an east facing valley head, with several springs
rising from the valley side at the 210m contour. The eastern extent of the
settlement appears to be defined by the modern road running north east-south
west to the west of Bumper's Isle Farm as little archaeological evidence for
activity has been found to the east of it. The A4135 also appears to mark the
northern extent of the main area of activity and although there are
indications of buildings to the north, they cannot be specifically dated to
the Roman period and are not included in the scheduling. The western and
southern extents of the settlement cannot be so clearly defined, but appear to
conform with the road to the south and the field known as `Middle Chessalls'
on the west. There is no evidence for pre-Roman native activity within the
area of the later settlement.
The sites of over 75 buildings of the Roman period have been identified within
the Roman town at Kingscote, both from aerial photographs and as
concentrations of limestone slabs, sandstone tiles, mortar and dark soil,
along with an axial road. The settlement does not appear to have been defended
in any way, although there is some evidence for a level of planning in the
layout of the town, with a north east to south west and a north west to south
east alignment of structures. A portion of the main road was excavated in
the 1970s, revealing a limestone surface and ditches on either side. Aerial
photographs indicate a large villa type building in the north eastern part
of the site, possibly of winged corridor or large courtyard plan, which is
associated with a number of detached buildings, and the east-west road
across the site appears to head towards the complex. Although no buildings
with specialized religious or cultural roles have been identified, finds of
a miniature weapon and a carved head of Minerva on the site in the 18th
century suggest the existence of a shrine somewhere within or adjacent to
the settlement. There is also considerable evidence from the finds made at
the site that the main occupation of the inhabitants was based on
The existence of a Roman settlement at Kingscote has been recognised since the
late 17th century, when an enamelled brooch was found here, and it was first
recorded in the `Magna Britannia Antiqua and Nova' of 1738. Finds from the
site include a mosaic pavement and numerous coins as well as a large number
of styli and a bronze stamp of late third century date. The finds can be
dated to the first to fourth centuries AD. The earliest material has been
found in the central and southern parts of the settlement, while the fourth
century finds occur much more widely and are thought to indicate its fullest
Excluded from the scheduling are all post and wire fences, stone walls,
gates, gateposts, telegraph poles and their supports, although the ground
beneath 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:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Timby, J R, Kingscote: A Romano-British Estate Centre in the Cotswolds, (1998), 6-22
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 Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing