Romano-Celtic temple 590m south east of St James's Church


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020862

Date first listed: 11-Jun-1975

Date of most recent amendment: 28-Jan-2003


Ordnance survey map of Romano-Celtic temple 590m south east of St James's Church
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Norfolk

District: South Norfolk (District Authority)

Parish: Wicklewood

National Grid Reference: TG 08825 02885


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

Reasons for Designation

Romano-Celtic temples were built to meet the spiritual needs of the communities they served by venerating the god or spirit considered to dwell in a particular place. The temple building was regarded as the treasure house of its deity and priests rather than as a congregational building and any religious activities, including private worship, communal gatherings, sanctuary and healing, took place outside. Romano-Celtic temples included the temple building and a surrounding sacred precinct or temenos which could be square, circular, rectangular or polygonal in ground plan. The temple building invariably faced due east and was the focus of the site, although it did not necessarily occupy the central position in the temenos. It comprised a cella, or inner temple chamber, an ambulatory or walkway around the cella, and sometimes annexes or antechambers. The buildings were constructed of a variety of materials, including stone, cob and timber, and walls were often plastered and painted both internally and externally. Some temenoi enclosed other buildings, often substantial and built in materials and styles similar to those of the temple; these are generally interpreted as priests' houses, shops or guest houses. Romano-Celtic temples were built and used throughout the Roman period from the mid first century AD to the late fourth/early fifth century AD, with individual examples being used for relatively long periods of time. They were widespread throughout southern and eastern England, although there are no examples in the far south west and they are rare nationally with only about 150 sites recorded in England. In view of their rarity and their importance in contributing to the complete picture of Roman religious practice, including its continuity from Iron Age practice, all Romano-Celtic temples with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national importance.

The Romano-Celtic temple 590m south east of St James's Church is one of only four sites of this type to have been identified with certainty in Norfolk, and is a good example of one of the characteristic forms of such temples. The limited excavations carried out in 1959 confirmed that substantial remains hav survived the ploughing of the site and clarified some details of the central building, but the monument will retain additional archaeological information concerning the date of construction of the temple, the duration of its use and the ritual practices of those who used it. The temple evidently served the inhabitants of an adjacent settlement, whose existence and local importance is demonstrated by numerous finds of Roman artefacts in the surrounding area and which, on the evidence of the finds of Iron Age coins and metalwork probably had its origins in the pre-Roman period.


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


The monument includes the buried remains of a Romano-Celtic temple, situated in an elevated position with commanding views to the north, south and east. The site was discovered in 1959, when crop marks (lines of differential crop growth above wall foundations) were observed, and a partial excavation of the site was carried out in August of the same year. The site is marked on the ground surface by fragments of tile and large flints. Evidence that there was a settlement in the vicinity is provided by numerous fragments of Roman pottery, coins and metal work, dating from the first to the fourth century AD, which have been found in ploughsoil around and to the north of the site. Finds of Late Iron Age coins and metalwork within the same area indicate that the site was already a focus of activity in the period preceding the Roman occupation of Britain.

The crop marks recorded in aerial photographs show the outline of the buried wall footings very clearly, and further details were established during the excavation. The building was rectangular in plan, with overall dimensions of approximately 15m north-south by 17m east-west. A square inner chamber, known as a cella, measuring about 8.5m on each side, was surrounded by an ambulatory (passageway) around 3.5m wide on the north, west and south sides and 5m wide on the east side, where the entrance would have been situated. The walls exposed by excavation were between 0.75m and 0.9m thick and constructed of mortared flint rubble with traces of a tile bonding course. Those of the cella were faced internally with the remains of plaster painted with a design in yellow and black on a red ground, and fragments of fallen plaster were found in the interior. At the centre of the cella was a massive foundation of mortared flint about 1.8m in diameter, which was perhaps the base for an altar or cult statue, and to the west of this there were remains of a clay hearth. Evidence for a mosaic floor was also found, in the form of chalk and fired clay tesserae.

The temple building would have stood within an outer enclosure, called the temenos. Temenoi were normally surrounded by a ditch, stockade or wall, but the recorded crop marks on this site have not shown any feature corresponding to such a boundary, and its precise extent is therefore unknown.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 10 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


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

Legacy System number: 30628

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Howlett, D, 'CBA Group 7: Bulleting of archaeological discoveries' in , , Vol. 6, (1959), 3
8897 Crownthorpe Roman Temple: 18111 Field N of temple site,
Edwards, D, Norfolk Landscape Archaeology TG 0802/AG, AH, (1993)
Edwards,D, Norfolk Landscape Archaeology TG 0802/AX, (1996)

End of official listing