Roman temporary camp at East Farm

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1456547

Date first listed: 08-Aug-2018

Location Description: Centred on NGR ST5851315461

Statutory Address: East Farm, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6JN

Map

Ordnance survey map of Roman temporary camp at East Farm
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Location

Statutory Address: East Farm, Bradford Abbas, Sherborne, Dorset, DT9 6JN

Location Description: Centred on NGR ST5851315461

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

County: Dorset

District: West Dorset (District Authority)

Parish: Bradford Abbas

National Grid Reference: ST5851315461

Summary

The buried remains of a Roman temporary camp, dating probably to the C1 AD.

Reasons for Designation

The Roman temporary camp at East Farm, Bradford Abbas is scheduled for the following principal reasons:

* Survival: despite being reduced by ploughing, the site survives well in the form of buried archaeological deposits; * Potential: it will retain significant information relating to the date of construction and illustrating the nature of occupation; * Rarity: this is a rare site-type, one of only four known examples in south-West and it will, therefore, add considerably to our understanding of the military and strategic use of this region during the Roman period; * Group value: strong historical and proximal group value with the scheduled Roman villa to the east of East Farm and also the example to the south-east of Bradford Abbas; * Documentary: it is well documented by aerial photography.

History

Archaeological aerial reconnaissance by Historic England (then English Heritage) in 2010 first noted a possible Roman camp to the west of East Farm in Bradford Abbas, and in 2013 further aerial photographs were taken of the site. Quantities of Roman material were first noted in the vicinity of East Farm at Bradford Abbas in the late C19, and since then, some excavation and the surface collection of artefacts has taken place in the area. In the mid-C20 small-scale excavation to the south-east of the farm uncovered evidence of late-Roman buildings, together with large quantities of Iron Age and Roman material, and this site was scheduled as a Roman villa in 1973. Further evidence of Roman activity in the area, includes another Roman villa (also a scheduled monument) to the south-east, between Bradford Abbas and Thornford and a hoard of C4 Roman coins found to the north at Nether Compton in the 1980s.

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were constructed and used by Roman soldiers and are thought to have been used for short periods, usually as part of military campaigns or for training. They are defined by a single earthen rampart and outer ditch, and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most known examples lie in the Midlands and the North.

The Roman military presence in Britain is thought to have spread from the south-east to the north and west, although probably in a complex series of campaigns and movements over decades rather than a linear progression. The military context dictated the size and location of a Roman temporary camp, depending on how many men were in the military unit, the needs of the campaign, exercise, or progress of transit to a more permanent military base. The Roman camp at Bradford Abbas may have been established sometime in the middle to late decades of the C1 AD, perhaps as part of a local military campaign. Alternatively it may have been established by a Roman unit in transit or possibly prior to the establishment of the fort at Ilchester, some 9km to the north-west. The camp has not been the subject of archaeological investigations.

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS The monument includes the buried remains of a Roman temporary camp visible as cropmarks on aerial photographs which define three sides of the camp. It is situated on a south-west facing slope, just below the crest of a knoll, which affords open views of the surrounding landscape except to the north-east.

DESCRIPTION No upstanding remains survive, but the buried remains of the monument show clearly as a series of cropmarks on aerial photographs. The camp is sub-rectangular in plan, with rounded corners, and is defined on three sides by 4m wide ditches. A north-eastern ditch is not evident on aerial photographs and the full extent of the monument cannot, therefore, be established. The camp may have extended as far as the knoll of the hill and if so, it would be relatively large and long in plan, but not atypical of Roman camps. The known dimensions of the camp are 265m north-west to south-east and at least 350m north-east to south-west. There is no evidence of an associated bank or rampart on aerial photographs, and this may have been degraded by ploughing.

EXTENT OF SCHEDULING The area of protection is based on current evidence and understanding arising from the aerial photograph assessment and transcription of the monument undertaken in 2013.

EXCLUSIONS All fence posts are excluded from the scheduling, but the ground beneath these features is, however, included.

Sources

Other
Historic England, 2013, A Roman Camp at Bradford Abbas, Dorset. Aerial Investigation and Mapping. Archaeological Report, Research Report Series no. 37-2013. Available at http://research.historicengland.org.uk/Report.aspx?i=15167&ru=%2fResults.aspx%3fp%3d1%26n%3d10%26rn%3d37%26ry%3d2013%26ns%3d1

End of official listing