Wickwar Roman small town 680m WNW of Hall End Farm

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021404

Date first listed: 28-Sep-2005

Map

Ordnance survey map of Wickwar Roman small town 680m WNW of Hall End Farm
© Crown Copyright and database right 2018. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100024900.
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: South Gloucestershire (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Wickwar

National Grid Reference: ST 70580 87398

Summary

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 Roman small town at Wickwar survives well and is a good example of its type. Geophysical survey and trial excavations have indicated the remains of the small town are extensive, comprising a variety of features. These include a number of buildings, enclosures, roads and ditches as well as a central Roman road running through the site on a north-south axis. In addition, there is also evidence for some industrial activity at the site. The area to the north bounded by the Ladden Brook is waterlogged and therefore will contain particularly rich deposits of preserved organic materials.

History

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

Details

The Roman small town at Wickwar comprises an area of approximately 16 hectares and lies 2km to the south west of Wickwar village. The site is situated on a slight crest which drops away at the northern end of the site towards the Ladden Brook. The town has been identified through extensive geophysical survey and a number of small trial excavations undertaken by Avon Archaeological Unit between 2001-2004. It is believed to date from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD. The remains are concentrated along a length of Roman road which runs across the site on a north-south axis through the fields Little and Great Blacklands. Although there is no evidence of a continuation of the metalled Roman road immediately across the Ladden Brook, it is known to exist from aerial photography further to the north of the site. Geophysical survey results clearly show that the central area of the town comprises a considerable number of stone buildings fronting the road, likely to be of both domestic and commercial function. Beyond these buildings there is evidence of a number of dispersed small enclosures, particularly in the western part of the site. Trial excavations in the north eastern part of the site have demonstrated the presence of shallow and well-preserved archaeological deposits including the remains of timber structures, a series of small lanes and ditches running at right angles to the central road, and evidence of industrial activity; substantial amounts of iron working debris were also recovered suggesting the presence of a smithy or iron furnace. Numerous contemporary small finds have been reported from this area including metal objects, pottery and dressed stone. Geophysical survey also revealed the presence of a curved feature in the north eastern part of the site which may represent a corner of the defensive ditch of a Roman fort. It is of the characteristic `playing card' shape associated with such features and it is certainly common for a town to be founded on the site of an earlier fort. All post and wire fences, gates and gateposts and animal troughs are excluded from the scheduling. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Legacy

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

Legacy System number: 36042

Legacy System: RSM

End of official listing