Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

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Roman mansio and settlement, 535m north-east of Penn House

A Scheduled Monument in Coldwaltham, West Sussex

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Latitude: 50.9465 / 50°56'47"N

Longitude: -0.5339 / 0°32'1"W

OS Eastings: 503093.6016

OS Northings: 117360.8522

OS Grid: TQ030173

Mapcode National: GBR GJD.PT7

Mapcode Global: FRA 96RL.ZT7

Entry Name: Roman mansio and settlement, 535m north-east of Penn House

Scheduled Date: 31 May 1951

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1005866

English Heritage Legacy ID: WS 125

County: West Sussex

Civil Parish: Coldwaltham

Traditional County: Sussex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): West Sussex

Church of England Parish: Hardham St Botolph

Church of England Diocese: Chichester


The monument includes a Roman mansio and later settlement surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on gently sloping ground west of Hardham, between the River Rother and River Arun. It is located along the course of Stane Street, the Roman road which linked the regional capital of Regnum (Chichester) to Londinium (London). The earthworks have been part-disturbed by the construction of a railway line (now disused) and gravel digging for railway ballast. They have also been levelled by ploughing in places but survive as a visible feature to the north-west.
The earthworks survive as a single bank, up to about 1.2m high and an outer ditch. These originally formed part of a rectangular enclosure about 128m by 133m, orientated north west to south east. The bank and ditch are still visible on the north west side as a rounded corner.
In 1863, a Romano-British cremation cemetery was found adjacent to and within the bounds of the mansio enclosure. The cremations were contained in urns or amphora, put in wooden boxes and placed in shafts. Other finds included a coin of Hadrian, animal bones, pottery, a pair of sandals and bronze fibula. The presence of some graves inside the bounds of the enclosure suggests that it was disused before the cemetery encroached upon it. The mansio was partially excavated in 1926 and this work uncovered the foundations of a later civilian settlement. The lower half of a quern was found in 1956. A geophysical survey in 1997 indicated that the enclosure was more regular and symmetrical than previously thought. It also provided evidence of structural features in the interior but no clear indication of substantial masonry buildings.
The monument excludes all modern fences and fence posts, gates and gate posts but the ground beneath these features is included.
Further archaeological remains survive within the vicinity of this monument. Some such as a nearby Priory are scheduled, but others are not because they have not been formally assessed.

Sources: West Sussex HER 2312 - MWS3200. NMR TQ01NW10, TQ01NW19. PastScape 393011, 393024.
Sussex OS maps (1:2500): 1876, 1897, 1911 and 1938.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Mansiones were substantial, mostly masonry, buildings of varying size and plan providing facilities, including accommodation and stabling, for travellers associated with the Cursus Publicus (the provincial postal service of Roman Britain). Constructed on or adjacent to major contemporary roads, they are usually found in urban contexts or within forts, although some examples lie between towns on roads which cross the more sparsely settled rural areas. They are found throughout England. Dating from the second to mid-fourth centuries AD, mansiones were often amongst the largest buildings of the town. The largest recorded urban example is at Silchester, where the mansio covers an area of c.0.4ha. Most examples survive in the form of buried foundations. Few examples have been positively identified and, in view of this rarity, all mansiones with surviving remains are considered to be of national importance
Despite damage by railway construction and part-levelling by ploughing in the past, the Roman mansio and settlement, 535m north-east of Penn House survive relatively well. The location on the course of Stane Street Roman road, a major line of communication between London and Chichester, indicates that it is a site of significance. It will contain further archaeological and environmental information relating to the use and history of the site as well as to the landscape in which it was constructed.

Source: Historic England

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