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Roman settlement, part of an associated field system and earlier Iron Age settlement remains at Gatcombe Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Long Ashton, North Somerset

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4268 / 51°25'36"N

Longitude: -2.6805 / 2°40'49"W

OS Eastings: 352781.756865

OS Northings: 169975.581029

OS Grid: ST527699

Mapcode National: GBR JM.P6G1

Mapcode Global: VH88S.HD8K

Entry Name: Roman settlement, part of an associated field system and earlier Iron Age settlement remains at Gatcombe Farm

Scheduled Date: 5 December 1955

Last Amended: 27 November 2014

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1011978

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22848

County: North Somerset

Civil Parish: Long Ashton

Traditional County: Somerset

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Somerset

Summary

A Roman settlement, an associated irregular aggregate field system and earlier Iron Age settlement remains, overlooking the Land Yeo river valley.

Source: Historic England

Details

PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS
The monument includes a Roman settlement, an associated irregular aggregate field system and earlier Iron Age settlement remains, situated on a south facing slope overlooking the Land Yeo river valley. It is located on the only land-bridge between Broadfield Down to the south and Failand Ridge to the north.

DETAILS

The settlement, commonly known as the Gatcombe Roman site, is now partially overlain by houses and farm buildings, although there are also extensive areas of well-preserved earthworks.

The earliest features include post holes representing structures dating to the pre-Roman Iron Age. These have been interpreted as the remains of several phases of farmsteads. A C4 wall up to 5m thick was constructed, enclosing an area of c.7ha. This wall is composed of good quality lias limestone masonry on the inner and outer faces, with an inner filling of carboniferous limestone or marl. The width of the wall foundations suggest an original height of 3m-4m, a size which is unusual for this type of Roman site.

At least 19 building foundations have been identified within the enclosed area. All are dry-stone founded and all are small in plan. The buildings have a random distribution within the enclosure and there is no trace of a street plan. Other Roman materials include Bath freestone copings and finials, stone roof slates, and flagstone and cobble floors. Furthermore, two burials and Chi-Rho graffiti on a potsherd indicate a Christian presence in the Romano-British Community at Gatcombe. Triticum Aestivum (bread wheat grains) found within one building were not introduced to Britain in the late fourth century, further confirming the later occupation of the site. A number of buildings, dating to the Roman period, are known to be situated outside of the walled area to the west and south.

The irregular aggregate field system occupies the area to the north and east of the settlement. The field system is defined by a series of linear banks and lynchets which survive between c.0.5m-0.75m in height and 1m-2m in width. These are orientated along the slope of the hill and divide the area up into a series of rectilinear plots. Holloways lead from the north-west of the walled settlement and to the east of Gatcombe Farm.

Coin and pottery finds are numerous (approximately 20,000 pottery sherds) and confirm the site as being commercial with very wide trade links. Stone finds include numerous small decorative and industrial artefacts, querns and mortars, and architectural materials. Other recovered artefacts are of clay, glass, iron and bone/ horn mainly relating to domestic occupancy, Metallurgical remains from a number of buildings relate to industrial working. Waste materials expected for a settlement of this date, includes animal bone fragments are also in evidence. The two adult burials uncovered on the site may be of C5 or C6 date.
EXCLUSIONS
Excluded from the scheduling are all fence posts and gates relating to the modern field boundaries, although the underlying ground is included. Also excluded are Gatcombe Cottage, the house, outbuildings and tennis court at Gatcombe Court, the farmhouse and buildings at Gatcombe Farm and the metalled surface of the lane, although the underlying ground is included in each case.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The Roman settlement, part of an associated field system and earlier Iron Age settlement remains, at Gatcombe Farm, Long Ashton, North Somerset is designated as a Scheduled Monument for the following principal reasons:
* Rarity: as a Roman small urbanised settlement with associated field systems, and with evidence of earlier occupation, the Gatcombe settlement is relatively rare in a national context;
* Potential: the site as a whole has a high potential for adding to our understanding of the contemporary agricultural and industrial methods, and the social and economic changes that the Roman Conquest brought;
* Group value: the area probably formed part of a wide network of Roman sites, with links to settlements in Bath and most probably Bristol.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Branigan, K, Gatcombe Roman Villa, (1977)
Barry Cunliffe, , 'Proceedings of the University of Bristol Spelaeological Society' in Excavations at Gatcombe, Somerset in 1965 and 1966, (1967)
Keith Branigan, , 'Current Archaeology' in Gatcombe, (1971)
Robert Smisson, , Phredd Groves, , 'Britannia' in Gatcombe Roman Settlment - A Reappraisal, (2014)
TWJ Solley, , 'Somerset Archaeological & Natural History Society' in Excavations at Gatcombe, Somerset, 1954, (1967)
Other
David Sabin and Kerry Donaldson, Land at Gatcombe Farm, Long Ashton, September 2012,

Source: Historic England

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