Roman small town at Wycomb


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1019101

Date first listed: 03-Jun-1948

Date of most recent amendment: 24-Nov-1999


Ordnance survey map of Roman small town at Wycomb
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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: Andoversford

County: Gloucestershire

District: Cotswold (District Authority)

Parish: Whittington

National Grid Reference: SP 02748 19979


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.

There is good evidence that the Roman small town at Wycomb developed on the site of an earlier, Iron Age, site and that the temple represents the continuation of a pre-Conquest religious or ritual site. The Roman settlement therefore appears to have grown up on a site of considerable antiquity and religious significance, indicating continuity both of place and function. The remains of a Bronze Age burial mound appear to be the earliest such evidence for this. Romano-British temple sites also acted as market centres for surrounding communities and it is likely that this would also have been a significant factor in the development of the settlement at Wycomb. Excavations and aerial photographs indicate that the settlement covered an area of approximately 10ha and that it was provided with metalled roads and other attributes of urban planning.


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


The Roman small town at Wycomb comprises an area of approximately 10ha within which significant evidence for Roman settlement has been recognised from excavations and aerial photographs. Wycomb is the name of the field in which the Roman settlement lies, and is thought to be derived from the Latin `vicus'. The site lies approximately 250m south of the village of Syreford and immediately to the north east of the village of Andoversford. The recorded area of the settlement is divided into two distinct zones by the line of the 19th century railway embankment, which stands to about 6m in height. Remains will survive beneath this embankment however, and the area is included in the scheduling. The land on either side of the embankment is relatively level rising to a gentle slope in the north eastern corner near Syreford Farm. The western extent of the settlement is defined by the River Coln, while to the east the land rises to form a broad valley within which the settlement is contained. An aerial photographic survey of the site was undertaken by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England in 1994. This showed a roadway running north east to south west across the length of the site, passing beneath the railway embankment. To the north of the embankment there are numerous smaller tracks running east and west from the main street, petering out after 30m or 40m. Also abutting the south western side of the main street are the cropmarks of an apparently large complex of buildings. These were part excavated by Lawrence in 1864, revealing the foundations of a number of structures. Opposite these cropmarks, on the north western side of the street are the cropmarks of a further structure, while to the west are three circular features, two of which are ditched. The larger of the two is thought to be the levelled remains of a prehistoric round barrow. There are also various pits of unknown origin throughout the area. All the archaeological features traced as cropmarks disappear beneath the railway embankment and will survive there. Immediately to the south of the embankment, the cropmarks appear in relatively high density suggesting that this area, and that part of the site beneath the embankment, may have formed the centre of the settlement. The main street appears to have forked at a point beneath the embankment, and the eastern branch runs in a south west direction for about 75m before turning to the south and disappearing beneath the main road. The western branch is straight and runs north east to south west from the embankment to the corner of the field. Both streets have a number of tracks leading off them to the east and west, about 20m to 30m long. During excavations in the 1860s Lawrence discovered what is believed to be a Romano-Celtic temple in the area between the two roads, close to the railway embankment and the cropmark evidence appears to confirm this, showing a large, square structure in this area. To the east of the roadway is further evidence for features such as building foundations, pits and ditches, while to the west the cropmarks are more sparse, consisting of scattered pits and a curvilinear ditch in the north west corner which disappears beneath the embankment. The presence of the Roman settlement at Wycomb has been recognised from the late 17th or early 18th century, when Abel Wantner made references to burials found at the site in his notes for an unpublished history of Gloucestershire. Further references to a Roman town and associated finds occur throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, including the excavations by Lawrence, undertaken in advance of the construction of the Cheltenham to Bourton-on-the-Water branch railway. There was no further archaeological work at Wycomb until a watching brief by Mrs H E O'Neil in 1956 when a water pipe was laid across the site. No features were encountered in the fields to the east or south west of the settlement site, although extensive features were noted within Wycomb field itself. Work was also undertaken in advance of the construction of the A40 between 1969 and 1971. This revealed features of the Roman period, as did work at Syreford Mill to the north west of the settlement area. Similarly, excavations undertaken in advance of the construction of the sewage works which lie to the south west of the railway embankment revealed rubbish pits, gullies and a burial. This part of the site has since been built over and is not included in the scheduling. Excluded from the scheduling are the railway embankment and associated brick revetting, all post and wire fences, telegraph poles and their supports, 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: 31927

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Timby, J R, Kingscote: A Romano-British Estate Centre in the Cotswolds, (1998), 377-386

End of official listing