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Romano-Celtic temple and Iron Age site south of Worth

A Scheduled Monument in Worth, Kent

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Latitude: 51.2503 / 51°15'1"N

Longitude: 1.3457 / 1°20'44"E

OS Eastings: 633573.624129

OS Northings: 155448.889223

OS Grid: TR335554

Mapcode National: GBR X1G.K1Z

Mapcode Global: VHLGS.8TRV

Entry Name: Romano-Celtic temple and Iron Age site S of Worth

Scheduled Date: 25 July 1978

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1004225

English Heritage Legacy ID: KE 197

County: Kent

Civil Parish: Worth

Built-Up Area: Worth

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent


Iron Age occupation site and Romano-Celtic temple 500m south-east of Upton House.

Source: Historic England


This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 17 March 2015. This 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.

The monument includes an Iron Age occupation site and Romano-Celtic temple surviving as buried remains. It is situated on a slight ridge between Ham Brooks Wood and North Stream, south of Worth. The chalk footings of the Romano-Celtic temple have been recorded following partial excavation. The cella is about 8.5m square and the surrounding ambulatory is about 16m long by 15.5m wide. The temple is thought to have been built in two phases; after the first building was destroyed another temple was built re-using building material, including stone sculpture and tiles, in the flooring.

Beneath the temple evidence of Iron Age occupation has been found including two post holes, which are thought to be part of an Iron Age timber inner shrine and indicated by votive offerings. The site was partially excavated in 1925 and 1985-9. A broad range of Iron Age pottery was found indicating three successive periods of occupation prior to the Roman period; in the Early Iron Age, again in the mid-third century BC and in the first century BC and AD. Nearly 100 Late Iron Age coins have been found in the immediate vicinity of the temple. These date from about 100 BC to 43 AD and are from tribes such as the Cantii, Trinovantes, Ambiani and the Atrebates. The coins may be votive offerings associated with the possible Iron Age shrine.

Further archaeological remains survive in the vicinity of this monument but are not included because they have not been formally accessed. To the south of the site is part of an Iron Age oviod enclosure probably forming a temenos or sacred precinct, a mid-first century AD cremation cemetery, a fifth century AD inhumation cemetery and two Iron Age pits.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Iron Age occupation site south of Worth is thought to be an Iron Age shrine, preceding a later Romano-Celtic temple. Prehistoric shrines date mainly to the later Iron Age (300 BC-AD 43) and are usually smaller than Romano-Celtic temples, with an often timber-built, rectangular or circular cella surrounded by an open or enclosed, variably-shaped temenos. Some shrines, such as the example at Maiden Castle in Dorset, are sited within contemporary hillforts or settlements, although others are set apart in more isolated areas. Evidence from excavated examples suggests that the temenos often contained pits within which votive offerings, including pottery, coins, and metal objects, were deposited. Around 20 prehistoric shrines have been recorded nationally, with a distribution confined to south eastern and central southern England. As such a rare monument type, all examples with significant surviving remains are considered to be of national importance.

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 Iron Age occupation site and Romano-Celtic temple south of Worth survive well, retaining archaeological and environmental evidence relating to the occupation site and the temple and the landscape in which they were constructed. The temple and Iron Age site have only been partially excavated and will retain potential for further archaeological investigation. The close association of the earlier occupation remains, a possible shrine, and the later temple will provide information about the continuity of religious practice during the later Iron Age and Roman period in this part of Kent.

Source: Historic England


Kent HER TR35NW27. NMR TR35NW27. PastScape 468222, 468225, 936982, 468338, 858876, 858941, 858944, 468228, 468334, 468335, 468350, 858889, 858947, 858952, 858955, 858956.

Source: Historic England

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