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Site of Romano-British town of Magna

A Scheduled Monument in Kenchester, Herefordshire,

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Latitude: 52.0805 / 52°4'49"N

Longitude: -2.8177 / 2°49'3"W

OS Eastings: 344060.557769

OS Northings: 242779.905522

OS Grid: SO440427

Mapcode National: GBR FF.C5P8

Mapcode Global: VH77Z.3YRY

Entry Name: Site of Romano-British town of Magna

Scheduled Date: 13 December 1929

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1001768

English Heritage Legacy ID: HE 29

County: Herefordshire,

Civil Parish: Kenchester

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Kenchester

Church of England Diocese: Hereford


Roman small town 280m west of Magna Castra Farm.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 19 May 2015. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.

This monument, which falls into three separate areas of protection, includes the Roman small town of Magna or Magnis situated on low lying ground close to a tributary of the Yazor Brook. The town survives as an irregular hexagonal platform defined by a marked scarp of up to 2.1m high on all except the south western side where it has been cut slightly by a modern road, there are at least two sections of upstanding masonry wall forming part of the stone built outer defences and a buried outer ditch. Within the town all the structures and deposits including buildings and streets are preserved as buried features.

The subject of frequent periods of excavation starting with antiquarian descriptions by Stukeley and continuing in 1912-13, 1924-25, 1956-62 and 1977-79 the town is known to have had a number of gateways but none on the eastern side. The defences were initially earthen ramparts but by the 2nd century these were beginning to be replaced by stone walls, gateways, bastions and ditches and this replacement and improvement continued until the 4th century. Excavations have shown that occupation of the town continued into the 5th century and this research has concentrated on the defences, streets and houses. Two Roman roads met beside the town and one leads on to important Roman centres in Wales. There were ‘military’ finds indicating that a possible 1st to 2nd century camp or fort was present within the town and there have been reports of a bath house as well as industrial activity and human cremations. The masonry defences were still allegedly standing in the 18th to 19th centuries.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

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 `green field' sites and consequently possess particularly well-preserved archaeological remains.

The Roman small town 280m west of Magna Castra Farm survives well and will contain further archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, strategic importance, social organisation, trade, industry, domestic arrangements, layout, economy, agricultural practices, abandonment and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England


PastScape 868007, 868023 and 108086, Herefordshire SMR 121

Source: Historic England

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