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Romano-Celtic temple in Greenwich Park

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: Romano-Celtic temple in Greenwich Park

List entry Number: 1021439

Location

The monument may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: Greenwich

District Type: London Borough

Parish:

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: Not applicable to this List entry.

Date first scheduled: 01-Dec-2009

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

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

Legacy System: RSM

UID: 28892

Asset Groupings

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

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 at Greenwich Park was built and in use by AD 100. It has been found by excavation to retain its main temple building, the cella with surrounding ambulatory, and its associated sacred precinct or temenos. Despite some excavation of parts of the main temple building over a number of years, most of this area and virtually all of the temenos is unexcavated, and will contain information about the temple itself and the ancillary buildings, either religious or secular, which were associated with it. The temple has produced a large number of finds, amongst which are rare ivories, inscriptions and a large number of coins which will give information as to the building's use and status. The building continued in use until about AD 400 and will provide information relating to the Roman occupation of Britain. As a nationally rare building type it will also add to our knowledge of other Romano-British religious sites. Its location is particularly advantageous to provide information on Roman London and its territorium. In addition, environmental evidence relating to the temple and the landscape in which it was constructed may be present.

History

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

Details

The monument includes a Romano-Celtic temple on the east side of Greenwich Park located partly on a prominent mound at the southern end of what is now Lover's Walk, between Lover's Walk and Maze Hill Gate. The monument is sited in a prominent position at the head of a valley near the edge of the Greenwich escarpment overlooking the River Thames. There is little to be seen on the ground apart from the mound, and this and other earthworks in the vicinity are somewhat confused by later Park landscaping. The mound has an iron railing enclosure erected in 1903 protecting a small area of tesserae set in concrete. The mound is subcircular and flat topped; about 23m in diameter and up to 1.2m high. It is steep-sided on the west reducing in height to the south. A slight concentric scarp surrounds the iron railings on all but the south side and appears to be the remains of a building platform. This roughly circular platform is about 12m in diameter and up to 0.4m high. The mound drops 1.9m to the north, but to the south and west decreases to an area of level ground extending to the scarp edge on the west and the valley of Lover's Walk to the south. This Romano-British building is a high status and possibly public building, which on the balance of evidence is interpreted as a temple. The evidence for the building has come from geophysical survey and excavation. An excavation on the mound in 1902 by AD Webster and Herbert Jones, revealed a small structure of two phases accompanied by fragmentary inscriptions, part of a statue, fragments of two rare carved ivory pieces (for ceremonial usage) and large quantities of pottery, some of it imports from France. In addition coins were discovered which had a date range from soon after the Roman conquest to the fifth century. The interpretation was that since the site was too small to be a villa, it possibly represented a shrine. Further Roman evidence was recovered during excavations in 1924-27 on the mound by Professor JEG de Montmorency for the Greenwich & Lewisham Antiquarian Society. In 1978-79 the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Excavation Committee confirmed by excavation that there were two phases of activity; the first a timber and clay building on flint footings dating to the end of the first century, replaced in the third century by a slightly larger square or rectangular building with a raised tessellated floor. Geophysical survey in 1994 failed to locate other structures in the immediate vicinity. In 1999 excavations were carried out by the Museum of London and Birkbeck College with Channel 4's Time Team which revealed more structural evidence on the mound and further features to the east of it suggesting a complex of buildings, ditches and metalled surfaces in that vicinity. Amongst the finds were the fragment of an inscription and a procuratorial stamped tile, indicating the presence of an official building. A re-interpretation by the Time Team staff of the inscription discovered in the 1902/03 excavation, suggests it to be a dedication to the spirits of the emperors accompanied by the name of the dedicator. The 1999 finds lent further weight to the interpretation of the building as a temple and indicated that the site was probably continuously used from about AD 100 to 400, confirming several phases of activity. Analysis of the excavation evidence shows a high status, possibly public, building with raised tessellated flooring and painted plaster walls. It was re-built at least once, and was in use probably continuously from AD 100 to 400. The interpretation of the structure as a temple would seem to be certainly correct based on its morphology and the evidence from inscriptions and small finds. There is other evidence of Roman activity in the immediate vicinity of the Park. The known remains of the route of Watling Street, the Roman road from the Kent coast to London, lies about 1km to the east of the Park, and a projection of the line of the road takes it through the Park. On Blackheath the Ordnance Survey recorded a rectangular earthwork in 1895 immediately north west of Hollyhedge House. This was excavated in 1906 producing Roman tile and coarse pottery. Close by, in Dartmouth Grove, cremation burials were also found in pottery urns in 1803. Apart from this, evidence is limited to isolated finds of coins, building material and pottery. Additionally a bronze lamp was recovered from the Thames and a bronze bowl from the Park. The iron railings and out-of-context tesserae embedded in cement are excluded from the scheduling. Also excluded is the Park path which crosses the site including the make up of the path and its tarmac surface. The ground beneath all these features is, however, included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Selected Sources

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

National Grid Reference: TQ 39299 77417

Map

Map
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Nov-2017 at 03:17:54.

End of official listing