Roman forts at Metchley
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: Roman forts at Metchley
List entry Number: 1020977
The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District Type: Metropolitan Authority
National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.
Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.
Date first scheduled: 10-Jul-1950
Date of most recent amendment: 10-Mar-2003
Legacy System Information
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System: RSM
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
Roman forts served as permanent bases for auxiliary units of the Roman Army.
In outline they were straight sided rectangular enclosures with rounded
corners, defined by a single rampart of turf, puddled clay or earth with one
or more outer ditches. Some forts had separately defended, subsidiary
enclosures or annexes, allowing additional storage space or for the
accommodation of troops and convoys in transit. Although built and used
throughout the Roman period, the majority of forts were constructed between
the mid-first and mid-second centuries AD. Some were only used for short
periods of time but others were occupied for extended periods on a more or
less permanent basis. In the earlier forts, timber was used for gateways,
towers and breastworks. From the beginning of the second century AD there was
a gradual replacement of timber with stone.
Roman forts are rare nationally and are extremely rare south of the Severn
Trent line. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are
important in representing army strategy and therefore government policy, forts
are of particular significance to our understanding of the period. All Roman
forts with surviving archaeological potential are considered to be nationally
The Roman fort at Metchley survives well despite later developments. Excavations have demonstrated a high level of preservation of both structural, artefactual and environmental deposits relating to an almost continual occupation of the Roman site over some 150 years. In addition the excavations have demonstrated survival of archaeological evidence for its earliest phases providing the plan of an unusual, early Claudian fort. Evidence for several phases of internal building demonstrates changes in the composition of the garrison and the function of the fort, as well as providing information for non standard structures which will contain evidence on the less well understood aspects of Roman military development. Artefacts and pottery from the site demonstrate extensive use of both imported and locally sourced pottery, with little trade from elsewhere in Britain, the exception being quern stones from the site, which derived from deposits in Derbyshire, Staffordshire and the Pennines. Environmental deposits preserved within the ditches demonstrated an excellent level of survival and included the remains of seeds, pollen and insects which provide information on the environment in the Roman period. For example there is evidence for the early clearance of nearby woodland and its later regrowth during the last phase of Roman occupation. Large areas of similar undisturbed deposits are believed to survive over a wider area of the fort and these would provide further information relating to the use and development of the fort and to the activities of its occupants over a period which saw significant changes in Roman Britain.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes the known surviving extent of the buried and earthwork
remains of Metchley Roman fort in Birmingham, which lies within five separate
areas of protection. Located upon a gently sloping plateau of sands and
gravels surrounded by boulder clay and oriented north west to south east, the
fort dominated low lying ground upon three sides, with rising ground to the
north west. The standing remains include the partially reconstructed north
western corner of the first century fort's northern annexe defences. The
remainder of the fort survives as buried features identified by a number of
archaeological excavations. These confirmed the substantial survival of buried
archaeological remains including a number of structures, with associated
artefacts and environmental deposits.
Historic maps, the earliest dating from 1718, show the fort surviving as a series of earthworks until 1917. Excavations in 1934-6 by St Joseph and Shotton, in 1954 by Webster and again in the 1960s and 1990s identified four main phases of Roman activity. The earliest fort was constructed around AD 40 and was approximately 200 sq m, defended by double ditches and a turf revetted rampart. Excavation within the interior of the fort provided evidence for a pair of facing barrack blocks, part of a granary, a workshop and store. The garrison at this time is believed to have included about 1000 men. The second phase of Roman activity involved the addition of ditched annexes on the northern and eastern sides of the fort and the deliberate clearance of the earlier interior structures. This was immediately followed by the construction of temporary, irregularly shaped timber-framed buildings including a store, a stable or groom's quarters and some associated fenced compounds. It is believed that the garrison was substantially reduced and the fort acted as a stores depot during this period.
Following a period of abandonment, a smaller fort, enclosing approximately 2.6ha, was built within the site of the earlier, first and second phase defences, these were recut to provide extra protection. This small fort was defended by a ditch and turf rampart, which was later reconstructed in timber. Interior buildings associated with the smaller fort included a small granary and cookhouse. The fort was abandoned around AD 75. There is evidence of some later Roman activity continuing until approximately AD 120, including evidence for recutting of the earlier fort ditches and other military style ditches dug on different alignments. This latest phase of activity is believed to represent a more sporadic military occupation of the site, which may also have involved the layout of practice camps.
Excavations carried out between 1999 to 2001 have identified a `vicus' or civilian settlement, including timber-framed buildings, hearths, ovens and trackways, extending over an area measuring up to 1ha lying to the west of the fort. The vicus is not included in the scheduling.
All modern surfaces, benches, paths and street furniture are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
Books and journals
Jones, A, 'Transactions 2001' in Roman Birmingham I Metchley Roman Forts, , Vol. 105, (2001), 135pp
National Grid Reference: SP 04243 83710, SP 04270 83633, SP 04405 83747, SP 04409 83813, SP 04415 83658
The above map is for quick reference purposes only and may not be to scale. For a copy of the full scale map, please see the attached PDF - 1020977 .pdf
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This copy shows the entry on 17-Aug-2018 at 09:55:33.
End of official listing