Bourton Bridge Roman settlement


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1018608

Date first listed: 24-Jul-1948

Date of most recent amendment: 11-Jan-1999


Ordnance survey map of Bourton Bridge Roman settlement
© Crown Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Bourton-on-the-Water

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Cold Aston

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Lower Slaughter

National Grid Reference: SP 15824 20795, SP 15851 20878, SP 15941 21042, SP 15970 20787, SP 16137 21195, SP 16213 21104


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

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 settlement at Bourton Bridge is known from excavations to survive well. It lies almost halfway between Cirencester and the Roman town at Dorn, and is likely to have had an official function from the date of its foundation. The earliest material recovered from the site indicates that the settlement had been established by the late first century AD, and continued to be occupied into the early fifth century. Further buried remains will provided valuable evidence for the development of this settlement and its place in the regional settlement hierarchy. Bourton-on-the-Water was the subject of an archaeological assessment by Gloucestershire County Council Archaeological Service in 1997. This provided information on the development of Bourton from the 1st century AD to the present.


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


The monument, which falls into six areas of protection divided by the lines of the A429 and A436, as well as a housing estate and the River Windrush, consists of the largely buried remains of a Roman settlement stretching along both sides of the Foss Way, 800m to the west of the village of Bourton-on-the- Water. The monument lies in areas of open ground to the east and west of the A429, and to the west of the A436 which joins the Foss Way at Bourton. The Roman settlement is thought to have grown up between the crossing point of the Foss Way over the River Windrush, and the junction of the Foss with Buckle Street 150m to the north of the ford. Material recovered from the area of the settlement indicates that the site was founded during the late first to early second century AD and continued to be occupied into the early fifth century. Excavations along both sides of the Foss Way have revealed evidence for a number of structures and other features, including the Roman ford, which lay beneath the modern road bridge. In 1959 H O'Neil's investigations to the west of the road in the area of the 19th century railway embankment revealed what is thought to have been a posting- house (mansio or mutatio), while to the east of the road evidence for three other structures was also revealed and interpreted as a wayside shrine, a bakehouse and a `transport cafe'. To the south of the bridge there is further evidence for Roman occupation and activity. To the east of the Foss Way, excavations by Renfrew in the 1970s revealed a number of circular structures, a wall, a ditch and the remains of what is thought to have been an industrial area. To the west of the road evidence for occupation has been found in the form of a building excavated by O'Neil in the late 1950s, along with numerous finds of coins and pottery and a hoard of 2,707 Constantinian folles discovered in 1970. Work during the 1970s and 1990s has also indicated the lines of two roads, one on either side of the river, running east from the ford towards Salmonsbury Camp. Evidence for structures lining the northern road was also found, but as this area has been developed, it is not included in the scheduling. A number of features are excluded; these are all wooden and post and wire fences, gates and gateposts, telegraph poles and associated supports, road signs, modern service boxes, the motoring organisation emergency telephone box, all tarmac and gravel surfaces and modern stuctures associated with Whiteshoots Garage, culverts and water management features along the course of the River Windrush and brick revetting and earthworks associated with the 19th century railway embankment, the ground beneath all these features is, however, 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: 31930

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Timby, J R, Kingscote: A Romano-British Estate Centre in the Cotswolds, (1998), 456-466

End of official listing