Roman Settlement at Keynsham Hams, former Cadbury's Factory


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Location Description:
Descriptive Location: Monument located within playing fields bounded by Great Western Railway (south), River Avon (west and north) and former Cadbury’s factory (west). National Grid Reference: ST 65350 69448


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

Location Description:
Descriptive Location: Monument located within playing fields bounded by Great Western Railway (south), River Avon (west and north) and former Cadbury’s factory (west). National Grid Reference: ST 65350 69448
Bath and North East Somerset (Unitary Authority)
National Grid Reference:


The buried remains of the core of the Roman town, identified as possibly being that of Traiectus, covering approximately 8ha, and with surrounding boundary ditches enclosing 18ha. The site is not visible at ground level but survives as buried features. The settlement stands on the edge of a terrace overlooking the floodplain and the River Avon at Somerdale, Keynsham.

Reasons for Designation

Part of the Roman settlement at Somerdale, Keynsham, Somerset is designated for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: archaeological evaluation and recording has demonstrated that this part of the settlement survives particularly well, retaining considerable evidence for occupation from the C1 AD to the C4 AD; * Rarity: as a particularly early Roman town, dating to the earliest phase of Romanisation in England and the West Country it is rare in a national context; * Potential: archaeological evaluation has confirmed that the site has very high potential for adding to our understanding of the development of the town and the social and economic changes that the Roman Conquest brought; * Group Value: the settlement, possibly that of Traiectus, formed part of a wide network of Roman sites, with links to settlements in Bath and most probably Bristol.


Somerdale is a former industrial site to the north of the railway line at Keynsham, Somerset, which was named following the beginning of works to build the Fry's chocolate factory on what was a greenfield site in 1922. The western end of the Somerdale site is historically known as Keynsham Hams, an area of gently sloping floodplain that extends to the west and north to meet a bend in the River Avon. Evidence of prehistoric human activity has been found on the Somerdale site and the wider Keynsham area. Within Keynsham Hams, there is evidence of prehistoric activity in the form of pottery. The site was occupied from the first to the fourth century AD, and a small Roman town was established by the third century AD. The town has been identified as one of the possible sites of the town of Traiectus, as listed on the Roman Antonine Itinerary of the third century AD. It is located between the large Roman settlements of Abonae (Bristol) and Aqua Sulis (Bath). During the construction of the factory buildings extensive Roman buried remains were discovered. A Roman building with mosaics, initially identified as a villa, was found and reconstructed at the entrance to the Somerdale site. A Roman well was left in situ and Roman coffins were also excavated. Subsequent works have revealed substantial further Roman remains on other parts of the site, notably on Keynsham Hams, including roads, numerous buildings, a possible temple, human remains and a large amount and variety of finds of the period.

Keynsham Abbey, to the southeast of the Roman quarry workings on the edge of the Somerdale site, was the focus of medieval settlement in the area. The abbey site is a scheduled monument (BA 2/ 5452) and the above ground features are listed at Grade I. The abbey grounds may have extended as far as the Somerdale site. There is evidence of former agriculture on Keynsham Hams, some of which may date to the medieval era and earlier. In the post-medieval period the northern part of Keynsham Hams was divided into a series of strip fields and boundary stones have been recorded at this location. The Bristol to Bath section of the Great Western Railway was constructed to the south of Keynsham Hams from c.1839.

From 1922, Fry's Factory was constructed on the site, and a railway cutting and sidings were constructed to the north and south of the factory in 1923/4. Large parts of the site to the south and west were left as open recreational space, although housing for factory workers was built on the newly-constructed Chandos Road in the mid-1920s, on the edge of Keynsham Hams. During the ownership of Fry's/ Cadbury's, parts of Keynsham Hams have been used as sports pitches and a golf course. The wider undeveloped area to the north and west of Keynsham Hams has been used for grazing. An archaeological evaluation was carried out in 1995, followed by a geophysical survey and some excavation in 2009. The factory buildings were assessed for listing in 2009 and were not recommended for designation. Geophysical surveys and excavations were carried out across the Somerdale site in 2012.


Principal Elements The Romano-British settlement, possibly that of Traiectus, at Somerdale, Keynsham overlooks the floodplain to the River Avon. It survives as buried features, with a core concentration under the sport pitches around what is known as the lower Fry Club car park, with historical agricultural land on the floodplain to the east and north. The high concentration of very high quality finds at the site may support the suggestion that the town is that of Traiectus.

Details The area includes the remains of the Roman settlement at the former Cadbury's factory at Somerdale. Recent surveys and excavations revealed archaeological deposits lying 0.2 to 0.3m beneath the modern ground surface, which are the remains of the Roman town. The principal core of the settlement is a linear metalled road, in parts approximately eight feet wide, which runs south-southwest to north-northeast and turning east-southeast at the northern end. Buildings, in the form of wall footings, stand to either side of the road, and a number of smaller roads or trackways lead off it. At least fifteen buildings, minor roads or tracks, enclosures, pits, ditches and areas of burning have been identified. There is a 9.3m diameter circular structure, probably a temple at the north-west corner of the core settlement, sited within a rectilinear boundary ditch enclosure with an entrance gap at the southeast corner. The remains of a further building overlies the southern ditch, and another is to the east of the enclosure. These features may relate to a temple complex. A series of ditches define the extent of the town to the east and north, beyond which the floodplain reveals fewer archaeological anomalies. In general, resistivity and LiDAR survey data from the site correlates with the findings of the magnetometry and supports the conclusions of earlier evaluations and interpretations of the site. Large quantities of pottery have been recovered. They include a mixture of continental and regionally-traded wares such as Samian ware, coarse ware, New Forest ware, and Castor-Nene ware. Building material including architectural stonework, building stone, flue tile and stone paving has been recovered. Other finds include Romano-British burials, cremations, brooches, coins, a key and iron nails, and domestic cooking items including quernstones and a butcher's cleaver.


Books and journals
Pevsner, N, Foyle, A, The Buildings of England: Somerset: North and Bristol, (2011), 535
Documents assocaited with planning applciation 13/01780/EOUT, accessed from


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.

End of official listing

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