Section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
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Ordnance survey map of Section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover
© 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.

City of Derby (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SK 32485 34156

Reasons for Designation

Roman roads were artificially made-up routes introduced to Britain by the Roman army from c.AD 43. They facilitated both the conquest of the province and its subsequent administration. Their main purpose was to serve the Cursus Publicus, or Imperial mail service. Express messengers could travel up to 150 miles (241km) per day on the network of Roman roads throughout Britain and Europe, changing horses at wayside `mutationes' (posting stations set every 8 miles (12.87km) on major roads) and stopping overnight at `mansiones' (rest houses located every 20-25 miles (32km-40km). In addition, throughout the Roman period and later, Roman roads acted as commercial routes and became foci for settlement and industry. Mausolea were sometimes built flanking roads during the Roman period while, in the Anglian and medieval periods, Roman roads often served as property boundaries. Although a number of roads fell out of use soon after the withdrawal of Rome from the province in the fifth century AD, many have continued in use down to the present day and are consequently sealed beneath modern roads. On the basis of construction technique, two main types of Roman road are distinguishable. The first has widely spaced boundary ditches and a broad elaborate agger comprising several layers of graded materials. The second usually has drainage ditches and a narrow simple agger of two or three successive layers. In addition to ditches and construction pits flanking the sides of the road, features of Roman roads can include central stone ribs, kerbs and culverts, not all of which will necessarily be contemporary with the original construction of the road. With the exception of the extreme south-west of the country, Roman roads are widely distributed throughout England and extend into Wales and lowland Scotland. They are highly representative of the period of Roman administration and provide important evidence of Roman civil engineering skills as well as the pattern of Roman conquest and settlement. A high proportion of examples exhibiting good survival are considered to be worthy of protection.

The section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover is well-preserved and represents one of the few surviving stretches of the Roman road that ran between Wall and Little Chester. The Bronze Age cremation urn and other artefactual evidence will provide, after detailed analysis, an excellent chronological framework for interpreting the site. They also add evidence to the suggestion that the high ground could have been settled during prehistory.


The monument includes a section of Rykneld Street Roman road and remains of a Bronze Age cemetery at Littleover, 4km south west of Derventio, the Roman fort at Little Chester. Further remains were believed to survive to the north east where modern development overlies the original line of the Roman road and beneath what was once the car park of the Forte Posthouse Hotel. However, this area has been the subject of extensive development activity and is not included in the scheduling.

Visible remains consist of, a raised embankment, approximately 5m wide surviving to a height of approximately 0.75m. This is now believed to be a medieval headland and field boundary. The buried remains of the Roman road are slightly offset to the east of the headland, but are not visible above ground. They include drainage features and construction pits flanked by shallow boundary ditches. These remains form part of the Roman road between Wall, near Lichfield, and the fort at Little Chester, and were probably constructed during the mid-first century AD although they would subsequently have been repaired and resurfaced several times during the period of Roman occupation. Plough scars cutting the Roman road surface indicate that in the post-Roman period the site was used for arable land. The road may have served as a boundary or headland, indicated by earthwork remains of medieval ridge and furrow ploughing which exist to the north east of the area of scheduling. It may also have remained in use as a road. In the 18th century, it formed part of the Birmingham to Derby turnpike. However, it is also possible that by this time, the main road had been diverted onto the present course of the A38 at Pastures Hill.

Archaeological excavation in 2003 by the Birmingham University Field Archaeology Unit identified the presence of a Bronze Age cremation cemetery in the area between the road and Pastures Hill. Artefacts recovered included a near complete Bronze age cremation urn as well as evidence for Iron Age occupation. The scheduling includes an alignment of prehistoric pits which may have formed part of a prehistoric land division. One pit, which falls outside the scheduled area, has been securely dated to the late Iron Age after recovery of pottery of this date from the pit's primary fill. Excavation led to the identification of other cremations of possible Bronze Age date, indicating the area may have served as a long lived ritual landscape, including Bronze Age to Roman activity in the Roman road's alignment. It has been suggested that the Bronze Age cremations could have been laid out along the line of a Bronze Age trackway which continued in use into, or was returned to use, during the Roman period.

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.

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Books and journals
Dodd, A E, Dodd, E M, Peakland Roads and Trackways, (1980)
Cockerton, R W P, 'Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in On the Development of the Roman Street System, Derbyshire, , Vol. 73, (1953)
Title: Map of Roman Britain Source Date: 1978 Author: Publisher: Surveyor:


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.

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