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Roman settlement by Fen Road, south of Poplar Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Pointon and Sempringham, Lincolnshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.8674 / 52°52'2"N

Longitude: -0.2809 / 0°16'51"W

OS Eastings: 515819.930685

OS Northings: 331379.727139

OS Grid: TF158313

Mapcode National: GBR GTV.7TD

Mapcode Global: WHHM5.N6G2

Entry Name: Roman settlement by Fen Road, south of Poplar Farm

Scheduled Date: 15 December 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1010000

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20814

County: Lincolnshire

Civil Parish: Pointon and Sempringham

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Sempringham with Pointon

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

Details

The monument includes the site of a small Roman settlement, located on the
silt of a wide roddon (extinct watercourse) in a fen deposit of marine clay,
and comprising two or three farmsteads, with associated yards and paddocks,
laid out to either side of a drove. The eastern half of the site survives
under pasture, in which the platforms and ditches which define buildings,
yards and other enclosures are visible as earthworks. In the western half of
the site, where the earthworks have been levelled by arable cultivation, the
pattern of the underlying ditches is traceable in soil marks which have been
recorded by means of air photography.

The drove, which is the focus of the site, runs diagonally south east - north
west, following a zigzag course around rectilinear enclosure boundaries. In
the eastern part of the site, it is visible as a hollow way, c.13m wide and
0.4m deep below the surface of the enclosures to either side, flanked by
linear hollows marking ditches which have become largely infilled.
To north and south of the drove and aligned roughly in relation, are the
farmsteads, each comprising one or more small sub-rectangular enclosures
contained within and adjacent to a series of larger, rectilinear yards and
small fields. Both large and small enclosures are bounded by intersecting
ditches which, where they survive as visible earthworks, appear as linear
hollows c.4m wide, open to a depth of from c.0.25m to c.0.5m. One of the
smaller enclosures, which survives as an upstanding earthwork to the south of
the drove, contains a building platform measuring c.17m square, surrounded by
a substantial ditch c.5m wide, and there are at least four other enclosures of
similar size to the west and north west of this, visible as crop marks, which
will also have been occupied by buildings. Sherds of Roman pottery and other
finds relating to domestic occupation have been recovered from the ploughsoil
surface above two of them.

All field gates and boundary fences are excluded from the scheduling,
although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT
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
Fenland silts around the Wash and areas on and close to the margins of the
peat fens were extensively and often densely occupied and farmed. Rural
settlements were small, comprising individual farmsteads or, more often,
groups of several farmsteads organised in small villages which, with their
associated field systems, were aligned along droves. Droves also served to
link loose clusters of neighbouring settlements in a branching and
intersecting network which might extend over several kilometres. The pattern
of settlement was determined chiefly by the requirements of stock management
and animal husbandry, exploiting pastures on the silts and higher ground, and
the summer grazing and winter fodder provided by the adjacent freshwater fens.
Although arable agriculture was almost certainly practised also, there was an
element of self sufficiency in craft production and in the exploitation of
local resources. Each farmstead was normally contained within a rectangular or
sub-rectangular enclosure or block of enclosures, demarcated by substantial
ditches and including low, thatched buildings of clay and wattle and daub on a
light timber frame, with working areas such as farmyard, stockyard, rickyards
and gardens alongside. Often the buildings were sited on natural hummocks or
on artificially raised platforms. The earliest of such settlements, which are
dated to the later first century AD, are generally very small and differ
little in general appearance from certain settlements of the preceding Iron
Age, although Iron Age settlements in the Fenland region are not so numerous
or widespread. During the second century, when small and large-scale
engineering projects, including the construction of roads and canals, were
carried out widely in the Fens, the size and complexity of the settlements
tended to increase and the layout of droves and fields to become more regular.
Many were, however, abandoned in the third century AD because of increasing
problems of flooding and drainage. Numerous Roman settlements of this type,
with their associated field systems, have been recorded in the Fens,
particularly through air photography, and they serve to illustrate both the
nature of small-scale farming during the period of the Roman occupation and
the ways in which a local population adapted to and exploited a particular
environment. Many of the sites have, however, been reduced by medieval and
later agriculture, and very few remain with upstanding earthworks, with a
varied range of identifiable features and/or evidence for the survival of
environmental remains. Consequently, all sites which survive as earthworks or
which have a varied range of identifiable features are considered to be of
national importance.

The Roman settlement south of Poplar Farm survives very well in the eastern
part. The western part, which is under cultivation, also retains valuable
archaeological information necessary for an understanding of the site as a
whole. The monument will contain evidence for the organisation, development
and duration of the settlement, and a wide range of evidence concerning
buildings, domestic life, farming practices and the local environment at that
time will be preserved in deposits on the building platform, in the yards and
enclosures which survive under pasture, and in the infill of the ditches and
other deeply dug, buried features such as pits. The site has additional
interest as part of an extensive landscape of settlements, droves and field
systems which has been recorded by means of air photography in the surrounding
area.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Other
Dossier for H B M C, Fenland Evaluation Project: Lincolnshire, (1990)
NMR TF 1631/2/46,
RAF/1431/7138,

Source: Historic England

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