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Parts of a Roman camp and signal station 410m ESE of Watling Street Grange

A Scheduled Monument in Donnington and Muxton, Telford and Wrekin

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.6972 / 52°41'50"N

Longitude: -2.4069 / 2°24'24"W

OS Eastings: 372595.811768

OS Northings: 311137.948974

OS Grid: SJ725111

Mapcode National: GBR BZ.3456

Mapcode Global: WH9D4.0G4L

Entry Name: Parts of a Roman camp and signal station 410m ESE of Watling Street Grange

Scheduled Date: 6 May 1955

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1006269

English Heritage Legacy ID: WK 188

County: Telford and Wrekin

Civil Parish: Donnington and Muxton

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: St George's St George

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Details

The monument includes parts of a Roman camp and signal station, situated on the summit of the prominent Red Hill, with wide views across the Shropshire Plain. The parts of the camp and signal station survive as buried structures and deposits visible on aerial photographs as crop and soil marks which have been confirmed by partial excavation prior to the construction of a reservoir. The area beneath the reservoir is excluded from the scheduling but included parts of both the camp and signal station. Both enclosures were originally rectangular in plan with rounded corners. The earlier and larger enclosure was defined by a single ditch which excavations in 1972-3 showed to be 4.2m wide and 2.2m deep with a revetted inner rampart of timber and clay. Dating to the 1st century, it was interpreted as a camp or military depot and measured at least 109m long by 100m wide. It appeared to have a southern annexe, first noted in 1965, in the area affected by the reservoir. Within the larger enclosure was a similarly shaped smaller enclosure defined by two concentric ditches of 2m wide and 1m deep. This measured approximately 91m long by 70m wide. The interior of this smaller and later enclosure produced 1st century pottery, and it has long been interpreted as a signal station. Both the camp and signal station were overlain by the subsequent small Roman town which occupied the area to the south and north of the nearby Roman road of Watling Street. This settlement is also associated with a mansio and is the subject of a separate scheduling.

Sources: PastScape 73992
Shropshire HER 01113 and 05965

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as practice camps although most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and few were used for longer periods. They were bounded 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 north. Around 140 examples have been identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation. Roman signal stations were rectangular towers of stone or wood situated within ditched, embanked, palisaded or walled enclosures. They were built by the Roman army for military observation and signalling by means of fire or smoke. They normally formed an element of a wider system of defence and signalling between military sites such as forts and camps and towns, generally as part of a chain of stations to cover long distances. In northern England stations were used in particular to augment the main frontier formed by Hadrian's Wall, but elsewhere stations were constructed along the coast to keep lookout over the sea and to signal information both along the coast and to inland sites.

Signal stations were constructed and used in Britain mainly during three distinct periods. The earliest examples were built between AD 50 and AD 117 for use during the earliest military campaigns during the conquest period. Signal stations at this period took the form of a wooden tower surrounded by a ditch and bank and possibly a slight timber palisade. After AD 117 towers were more usually built in stone, some on the same site as earlier timber towers. The latest series, in the mid-4th century AD, were more substantial stone signal stations built mainly along the Yorkshire coast. These had a tower up to 30m high which was surrounded by a curtain wall and external ditch. Signal stations survive as low earthworks, or their below ground remains may be identified on aerial photographs. Fewer than 50 examples have been identified in England. As one of a small group of Roman military monuments, which are important in representing army strategy, government policy and the pattern of military control, signal stations are of importance to our understanding of the period. The parts of a Roman camp and signal station 410m ESE of Watling Street Grange survive comparatively well and, in the case of the signal station, are a rare form of monument. Both will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to their construction, development, longevity, military significance, function, interrelationship and overall landscape context.

Source: Historic England

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