Ancient Monuments

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Roman drove, enclosures and building platform at Chestnut Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Thorney, Peterborough

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Latitude: 52.6569 / 52°39'24"N

Longitude: -0.0559 / 0°3'21"W

OS Eastings: 531596.104593

OS Northings: 308346.9484

OS Grid: TF315083

Mapcode National: GBR K09.JP0

Mapcode Global: WHHN8.3HN0

Entry Name: Roman drove, enclosures and building platform at Chestnut Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1009990

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20801

County: Peterborough

Civil Parish: Thorney

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Thorney Abbey St Mary and St Botolph

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes upstanding earthworks which form part of a drove of
Roman date and associated rectangular ditched enclosures, sited on the raised
surface of an earlier, silted tidal creek. The drove appears slightly raised
above the adjacent ground level and is visible across the southern end of the
site on a line north west - south east. It ranges from 6m to 10m in width and
is bordered along either side by ditches which have become partly infilled,
but which are visible as linear hollows 3m to 4m wide and up to 0.4m deep in
the ground surface. To the north of the drove, and aligned on an axis roughly
at right angles to it, are parts of a series of contiguous rectangular
enclosures, visible over an area with maximimum dimensions of 150m north west
- south east by 77m north east - south west. The ditches which define the
enclosures are from 3m to 4.5m wide and have a total depth of 0.8m or more,
including approximately 0.5m of accumulated fill. Within the south eastern
corner of the northernmost enclosure is a rectangular earthen platform
approximately 0.3m high and measuring approximately 12m north west - south
east by 7m north east - south west, which is interpreted as the site of a
The earthworks are part of a system of enclosures laid out on a regular plan
to either side of subsidiary droves which lead off at right angles from the
north side of the principal north west - south east drove. The rest of the
site, to north and west of the surviving earthworks, is under cultivation, but
the ditches show as crop marks, the pattern of which has been traced by means
of aerial photography, extending over an area of at least 15ha. The
enclosures have, for the most part, the appearance of paddocks and corrals
designed for the management of stock, and the site is probably part of a
single ranch rather than a series of small settlements or farmsteads. The
parts of the site defined only by crop marks are excluded from the scheduling.
The stable which stands in the southern of the two paddocks which contain the
earthworks is excluded from the scheduling, as are the field boundary fences
and gates, water troughs and supply pipes, and fixed jumps built of timber in
the north paddock, although the ground beneath all these features is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

During the Roman period, particularly during the second century AD, the fen
silts and areas bordering the peat fens were extensively and often densely
occupied and farmed. The Roman field systems in the Fenland were often laid
out around or between small settlements of no more than a few farmsteads,
although some may reflect land division and land management on a more widely
organised scale. Sometimes they may be associated with a major landscape
feature, such as a road or canal. They comprised more or less regular blocks
of rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures, often aligned along and linked
by droves and sometimes covering large areas, although most are less than
200ha in extent. Both fields and droves were defined by ditches, sometimes
with adjoining banks, which may remain visible on the ground as earthworks.
The field systems are, however, recognisable primarily through air
photography in which the rectilinear pattern shows up in crop marks, soil
marks or relief lines. The pattern of the fields and droves in the Fens
suggests a concern chiefly with stock management, although arable agriculture
will also have played some part. Many field systems have been recorded in the
region, and although almost all have been levelled by later agriculture, many
of the levelled systems will nevertheless retain archaeological features of
national importance. These, and all field systems which retain identifiable
upstanding earthworks, are considered to be worthy of protection.

The earthworks at Chestnut Farm survive very well and cover approximately a
tenth of the area of the system of which they form a part, the rest having
been recorded in some detail from air photographs. Archaeological information
relating to the organisation and use of the field system as a whole, including
evidence of farming practice on the site and of the local environment at that
time, will be contained in the fill of the ditches bordering the drove and
enclosures, in deposits beneath the surface of the enclosures, and in and
beneath the building platform. The building platform will also contain
evidence of structures.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hall, D N, Palmer, R, Fenland Evaluation Project: Cambridgeshire, (1990)
Hall, D N, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 2: Cambridgeshire, Peterborough to March, , Vol. 35, (1987), 51,52

Source: Historic England

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