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Derby Racecourse Roman vicus and cemetery

A Scheduled Monument in Derwent, Derby

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Latitude: 52.9337 / 52°56'1"N

Longitude: -1.4621 / 1°27'43"W

OS Eastings: 436249.626158

OS Northings: 337503.705823

OS Grid: SK362375

Mapcode National: GBR PN9.LP

Mapcode Global: WHDGT.HJZ9

Entry Name: Derby Racecourse Roman vicus and cemetery

Scheduled Date: 9 October 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1012582

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13236

County: Derby

Electoral Ward/Division: Derwent

Built-Up Area: Derby

Traditional County: Derbyshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Derbyshire

Church of England Parish: Derby St Mark

Church of England Diocese: Derby


Located c.600m east of the Roman fort at Little Chester (Derventio), the
site is a vicus, or small civilian settlement, situated on the Roman
road from Little Chester to the Trent at Sawley. Excavations carried out
on part of the site between 1968 and 1974 have revealed it to be a Roman
industrial settlement, specialising originally in pottery and later in
metalworking, with an associated cemetery. Pottery production indicates
that industrial activity began with the settlement's creation c.AD90 and
lasted until the mid-second century when metalworking took over as the
most important industrial activity. This continued until the
settlement's decline in the mid-fourth century. The latter period of
occupation, from the second to the fourth centuries, is reflected in the
area of the cemetery excavated. This revealed a line of five mausolea
near the Roman road and an open cemetery to the north with both
cremation and inhumation burials, three of which contained military
dress-fittings. An area of a walled cemetery containing a mixture of
inhumations and cremations was also located slightly further north of
the main complex. The modern goalposts within the scheduled area are
excluded from the scheduling.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman towns were the first thoroughly urban settlements in Britain. The
term vicus had several connotations and was applied to districts within
a town, to some private and imperial estates, to commercial villages,
some of which were centres of trade and others mining, industrial and
religious settlements, and to small towns connected with or somehow
serving a fort. Some vici were planned and intended for development into
civitas capitals, others grew spontaneously in response to local
economic needs and others played a role in the administration of the
country districts or pagi. In this way their creation was an important
step in the Romanisation of Britain since they were a mark of the native
population's acceptance of town-based life, which was itself central to
Roman government and administration.
The Derby Racecourse site is an important example of a fort-vicus, an
extramural civilian settlement attached to the nearby fort of Derventio
at Little Chester. Fort-vici are rare nationally, with less than sixty
identified examples, and are situated almost exclusively in frontier
regions where conditions were not secure enough for fully-fledged towns
to develop.
They were important centres in which people settled in order to provide
goods and services to the moneyed Roman troops.
The Derby Racecourse site has been identified as one of only two well-
preserved vici in Derbyshire and has a very rich associated Roman
cemetery which has already yielded considerable evidence of the size,
age range, sex and wealth of the population associated with the vicus
and fort.
The previous excavations at the site have been limited and the site is
of considerable archaeological potential.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Dool, J, 'The Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in Derby Racecourse: Excavs on the Roman Industrial Settlement 1970, , Vol. CV, (1985), 155-221
Wheeler, H, 'The Derbyshire Archaeological Journal' in The Racecourse Cemetery, , Vol. CV, (1985), 222-280

Source: Historic England

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