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Cambodunum Roman fort and vicus, Slack

A Scheduled Monument in Colne Valley, Kirklees

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Latitude: 53.6541 / 53°39'14"N

Longitude: -1.873 / 1°52'22"W

OS Eastings: 408493.668786

OS Northings: 417515.631995

OS Grid: SE084175

Mapcode National: GBR HVC5.9V

Mapcode Global: WHCB0.6FC2

Entry Name: Cambodunum Roman fort and vicus, Slack

Scheduled Date: 17 October 1930

Last Amended: 31 March 2016

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005804

English Heritage Legacy ID: WY 158

County: Kirklees

Electoral Ward/Division: Colne Valley

Built-Up Area: Huddersfield

Traditional County: Yorkshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Yorkshire

Church of England Parish: Longwood St Mark the Evangelist

Church of England Diocese: Leeds


Roman fort established about AD80, with some stone rebuilding around AD100, the garrison reduced in the early AD120s and finally abandoned AD140-60, but with the associated vicus persisting into the C3 or even early C4. The monument survives as buried remains with some slight earthworks.

Source: Historic England


PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS: Roman fort with a defended annex forming a vicus (civilian settlement), surviving mainly as buried archaeological deposits but including some low earthworks.

DESCRIPTION: the fort occupies an elevated spur of land formed by the deep gully of the Longwood Brook to the west and south, with the vicus extending to the north and east. The M62 motorway, which is not included in the monument, overlies the course of the Roman road and now bisects the remains of the vicus.

The fort is square, 120m across including its rampart, and faces north east. Its south western rampart aligns approximately with the south western boundary of the car park for Outlane Golf Club, the southern corner of the fort being identifiable as a slight earthwork in the paddock to the south, the western corner being clipped by Slack Lane just east of Heath House. The infilled remains of the outer ditches on the south western side of the fort largely lie beneath the houses and associated grounds forming the eastern side of the hamlet of Slack and are not included in the scheduled area, however it will extend into a corner of a paddock to the south which is included within the monument.

The golf clubhouse sits on a raised platform thought to be clay imported to the site in circa 1970, overlying part of the north western fort rampart, its platform extending over the position of the fort’s north western gate, the porta principalis sinistra. The north eastern rampart can be seen as a very slight earthwork crossing the golf club green. Very slight earthwork rises beneath modern field boundaries indicate the course of the south east rampart. Cross section drawings from the 1913-15 excavations show that these subtle earthworks mark the course of the low remains of a turf bank built on stone footings with an infilled double outer ditch 6-8m wide, the individual ditches being V shaped and 2-4m, the full width of the defences being some 15m. The buried remains of buildings, including the stone-built headquarters building and the double barrack block (centred approximately 50m from the clubhouse to the south and east respectively) are not readily apparent as earthworks, but are considered to survive as buried remains. The car park, which appears to be built-up rather than terraced-in, overlies part of the fort interior that has not been extensively investigated archaeologically, accounting for nearly 20% of the fort’s area. This is considered to retain remains of barrack blocks built to the rear of the fort’s granary and headquarters. The two paddocks to the south east of the car park have also not been extensively excavated and are also considered to retain Roman archaeology, even though nothing was identified during an archaeological watching brief in 1994 in advance of the construction of a stable. The eastern paddock, just south of the stable, includes the expected site of the praetorium (the commander’s house), structural remains of which were suggested by the 2006 geophysical survey.

The site of the bath house is now identified by a slight hollow lying between two of the golfing greens, centred approximately 150m east of the golf clubhouse. The 2006 geophysical survey indicated that the eastern boundary of the vicus runs north west to south east, about 160m north east of the clubhouse, roughly on the same line as a field boundary removed circa 1970. The 2006 geophysical survey suggested an intensification of archaeological remains within about 50m of the vicus boundary, the 50m wide area between this and the fort’s rampart appearing to be relatively clear except for the bath house. The excavations of 1913-15 found this area immediately outside the fort to have been paved, with the paved surface lying approximately 40cm below the modern ground surface. The Longwood Beck is considered to have formed the southern boundary of the vicus.

The field to the north of Heath House, south of the motorway, retains in situ remains of the Roman aqueduct identified in 2007-10, along with evidence of the occupation of the vicus. A section of infilled ditch, interpreted as the western boundary of the vicus, has been being identified just to the north of Heath House. To the north of the motorway, the two areas divided by the cutting for Slack Lane, are known to retain the remains of the northern boundary to the vicus which survives as an infilled ditch and, in places, slight remains of a bank. Hartley’s plans indicate that the Roman road ran along the area now covered by the northern embankment of the motorway. Consequently Roman vicus buildings fronting onto the northern side of this road will have extended back into the areas of the monument on the north side of the motorway. These two areas are thus also expected to retain further buried remains related to the vicus in addition to the remains of its northern boundary.

AREA OF MONUMENT: this includes the fort and associated vicus with the southern boundary following the Longwood Brook, and the western boundary being drawn to exclude the domestic properties and gardens of Slack. The northern and eastern boundaries are drawn to include the outer bank and ditch of the vicus together with a protective margin, the line being drawn to modern boundaries or as a straight line where there is no suitable modern boundary to follow. The monument is divided into four constraint areas by excluding the M62 motorway with its embankment and Slack Lane with its cutting, following modern boundaries as mapped by the Ordnance Survey.

EXCLUSIONS: all standing structures, buildings, sheds, walls, fences, posts and other modern features such as litter bins and hand rails along with the car park, roads, paths, steps, hard standings and other modern surfaces are all excluded from the scheduling, however the ground beneath all of these features is included in the designation. Modern services (gas, water, and drainage pipes, as well as conduits for electricity and telecommunication cabling and inspection/access chambers) are also excluded from the scheduling, although the ground through which they pass remains included in the designation. Fence and wall lines used to define the extent of the designation all lie immediately outside the scheduled area.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Cambodunum Roman fort and vicus is scheduled for the following principal reasons:
* Period: as a good example of a late C1 Roman fort which led to the establishment of a civilian settlement that is believed to have persisted into the C4;
* Survival, potential: extensive in situ archaeological remains of both the fort and vicus are known to survive, including some areas retaining waterlogged organic material;
* Documentation: the monument has a long history of archaeological investigation, the records of which considerably add to our understanding.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hobson et al, B, The Romans in Huddersfield - A New Assessment (BAR British Series 620), (2015)
Dodd, PW and Woodward, AM "Excavations at Slack 1913-1915" (1922) in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal Vol.26 pp1-92
Hunter, JKL et al "Recent Excavations at the Slack Roman Fort" (1971) in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal vol.42 pp74-91
Vernon, RW and Schmidt, A "Report on Geophysical Surveys at Slack Roman Fort" (2006) Bradford University report GP06-2

Source: Historic England

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