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A pair of Roman camps and a section of a post-medieval sunken road situated in the north eastern corner of Cornbury Park

A Scheduled Monument in Charlbury, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8675 / 51°52'3"N

Longitude: -1.4907 / 1°29'26"W

OS Eastings: 435160.452607

OS Northings: 218895.957079

OS Grid: SP351188

Mapcode National: GBR 6TM.V89

Mapcode Global: VHBZP.3BR5

Entry Name: A pair of Roman camps and a section of a post-medieval sunken road situated in the north eastern corner of Cornbury Park

Scheduled Date: 22 March 1949

Last Amended: 4 January 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1008399

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21781

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Charlbury

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire


The monument includes a pair of Roman camps and a section of post-medieval
sunken road, overlooking the valley of the River Evenlode in the north eastern
corner of Cornbury Park.
The larger of the two camps is situated to the north east of the other and
lies on the edge of a ridge overlooking the river valley, opposite the town of
The larger camp has three well preserved sides of a rectangular enclosure
measuring 124.4m from south west to north east and 94.4m from north west to
south east, surrounded by an earthen rampart and outer ditch. The rampart
measures 5.2m wide and stands up to 0.6m high except on the north eastern side
where it has been levelled by cultivation in the past and is no longer visible
at ground level. The ditch is 5.6m wide and, although it has become partially
infilled over time, survives as a visible feature 0.4m deep. This provided
material for the construction of the ramparts as well as additional protection
to the defences of the camp.
The camp was entered via four gateways, one on each side, with the shorter,
south western and north eastern sides having centrally located openings c.6m
wide through the rampart. The gap in the south western side has been widened
at a later date where a tree-lined avenue runs through the rampart. However,
the terminal ends of the original ditches can be seen as lighter areas in the
grass cover. These entrance gaps would have been defended by wooden gate
towers with the ramparts topped by a palisade fence, to provide extra
protection for the soldiers camped inside.
The entrances on the two longer sides were situated about two thirds of the
way along the sides and one can clearly be seen 87m north of the south eastern
corner of the camp. This layout is typical of Roman fort plans in which the
two main roads formed a T-junction in front of the headquarters building or
The second camp is situated 37m to the south and is best preserved on the
north eastern and north western sides. It has an enclosed area of 60m by 90m,
which is half the size of its neighbour. The rampart measures 3.8m across and
0.4m high. The surrounding ditch measures 5m across and, although partially
infilled, survives as a visible feature 0.4m deep. The south eastern end of
the camp is no longer visible at ground level, while the south western side is
marked by a series of irregular disturbances which are believed to be the
locations of later quarrying along the line of the ditch.
A post-medieval sunken road runs from north to south between the two camps and
measures 4m across with external banks 2m wide and up to 0.6m high on either
side. This track runs south across the park for c.800m before turning south
west towards the house and stables. A 120m long section at this northern end
is included in the scheduling.
Excluded from the scheduling are the drystone wall and the boundary fence
running from north to south across the eastern side, although the ground
beneath these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

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; 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.
All well-preserved examples are identified as being of national importance.

The pair of Roman camps in the north eastern corner of Cornbury Park are well
preserved and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating
to their construction and the landscape in which they were built. They are
located within an area which was heavily occupied by farms and villas during
the later Roman period and they will provide evidence of the brief period of
military activity following the invasion.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Sutton, J E G, 'Oxoniensia' in Iron Age Hillforts and Other Earthworks in Oxon., , Vol. XXXI, (1966), p 39
Discussion of excavated fort areas, Johnson, A., Roman Forts, (1983)
Discussion with P. BOOTH (OAU), JEFFERY, P., Site Discussion, (1993)
Discussion with P. BOOTH (OAU), JEFFERY, P.P., DISCUSSION ON SITE, (1993)
Discussion with P. SMITH (CAO. OXON), JEFFERY, P., DISCUSSION, (1993)
PRN 13,349 Note 1, C.A.O., BOUNDARY BANK, (1980)
PRN 13,349, C.A.O., BOUNDARY BANK, (1980)
PRN 2400, C.A.O., Rectangular Enclosure - Hillfort, (1966)
SHEET SP 31 NE, R.C.H.M.(E), NAR 1:10,000 Map Coverage, (1976)
SP 31 NE 20, R.C.H.M.(E), BOUNDARY ?, (1976)
Title: SMR 1:10000 Map Coverage
Source Date: 1990
Sheet SP 31 NE

Source: Historic England

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