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Lee's Rest Earthwork: a probable Romano-Celtic temple 200m north east of Lee's Rest Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Charlbury, Oxfordshire

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Latitude: 51.8711 / 51°52'16"N

Longitude: -1.4522 / 1°27'7"W

OS Eastings: 437813.626408

OS Northings: 219314.36772

OS Grid: SP378193

Mapcode National: GBR 6TN.RN3

Mapcode Global: VHBZP.S75F

Entry Name: Lee's Rest Earthwork: a probable Romano-Celtic temple 200m north east of Lee's Rest Farm

Scheduled Date: 12 August 1949

Last Amended: 30 March 1994

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011226

English Heritage Legacy ID: 21787

County: Oxfordshire

Civil Parish: Charlbury

Traditional County: Oxfordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Oxfordshire

Church of England Parish: Charlbury with Shorthampton

Church of England Diocese: Oxford


The monument includes a triple ditched Romano-British enclosure, interpreted
as a Romano-Celtic temple, and situated 200m north east of Lee's Rest Farm.
The site occupies a gently sloping promontory which overlooks the valley of
the River Evenlode, 2km to the south.
The southern part of the monument, where it lies within woodland, appears as a
series of low earthworks; elsewhere it survives in the form of buried remains,
the extent of which have recently been defined by a geophysical survey.
The enclosure is square and includes an internal area 40m across surrounded by
three ditches which, from the inside out, measure 3m, 7m and 7.5m across
respectively. All three ditches are interrupted by a single entrance causeway
which approaches the site in the middle of the enclosure's south east facing
Partial excavations across the ditches in 1960 by R Linington unearthed finds,
including quantities of Romano-British pottery sherds, fragments of Roman tile
and what is described as a 'fine bronze figurine'. Finds of Roman pottery and
Roman coins are also regularly made when the surrounding fields are ploughed.
Some 20m south of the monument is a spring. Such springs were often chosen as
the sites for Celtic shrines.
Based on the distinctive triple ditch construction of the monument, its
setting and the associated finds, it is believed that this is a Romano-Celtic
temple site, serving the local Romano-British population who are known to have
intensively farmed the area from a number of villa sites distributed along the
valley of the River Evenlode.
Excluded from the scheduling is the boundary fence which crosses the north
west corner of the monument but the ground beneath is included.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 3 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Romano-Celtic temples were built to meet the spiritual needs of the
communities they served by venerating the god or spirit considered to dwell in
a particular place. The temple building was regarded as the treasure house of
its deity and priests rather than as a congregational building and any
religious activities, including private worship, communal gatherings,
sanctuary and healing, took place outside.
Romano-Celtic temples included the temple building and a surrounding sacred
precinct or temenos which could be square, circular, rectangular or polygonal
in ground plan. The temple building invariably faced due east and was the
focus of the site, although it did not necessarily occupy the central position
in the temenos. It comprised a cella, or inner temple chamber, an ambulatory
or walkway around the cella, and sometimes annexes or antechambers. The
buildings were constructed of a variety of materials, including stone, cob and
timber, and walls were often plastered and painted both internally and
externally. Some temenoi enclosed other buildings, often substantial and built
in materials and styles similar to those of the temple; these are generally
interpreted as priests' houses, shops or guest houses.
Romano-Celtic temples were built and used throughout the Roman period from the
mid first century AD to the late fourth/early fifth century AD, with
individual examples being used for relatively long periods of time. They were
widespread throughout southern and eastern England, although there are no
examples in the far south west and they are rare nationally with only about
150 sites recorded in England. In view of their rarity and their importance in
contributing to the complete picture of Roman religious practice, including
its continuity from Iron Age practice, all Romano-Celtic temples with
surviving archaeological potential are considered to be of national

The Lee's Rest earthwork has been well recorded by aerial photography and
geophysical survey and, despite partial levelling by cultivation, it survives
well and is known from partial excavation to contain archaeological and
environmental evidence relating to its construction, use, and the landscape in
which it was built.

Source: Historic England


AM Lab GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY, Payne, A, Lees Rest Enclosures, (1992)
Discussion with IAM S.Trow by phone, Jeffery, PP, Nature of Site, (1992)
Discussion with Mrs Potter on site, Jeffery, PP, Site Details, Management etc, (1992)
DOE letter to owner on /1 file, RUMLEY, N., LEES REST ENCLOSURE EXCAVATIONS 1960, (1970)
NMR SP3719/1-2, Allen, Allen Collection, (1934)
Owner stated finds in Ashmolean, Jeffery, P.P., Richard Linnington 1960 Excavations, (1992)
References to SMC and field visits, Armstrong, L., AM 107, (1992)

Source: Historic England

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