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Roman settlement 600m north east of Rowler

A Scheduled Monument in Croughton, Northamptonshire

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Latitude: 52.0156 / 52°0'56"N

Longitude: -1.1996 / 1°11'58"W

OS Eastings: 455024.742865

OS Northings: 235543.278154

OS Grid: SP550355

Mapcode National: GBR 8VX.PHF

Mapcode Global: VHCWJ.5L5P

Entry Name: Roman settlement 600m north east of Rowler

Scheduled Date: 28 July 1995

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013950

English Heritage Legacy ID: 22703

County: Northamptonshire

Civil Parish: Croughton

Traditional County: Northamptonshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Northamptonshire

Church of England Parish: Croughton All Saints

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes the remains of a Roman settlement situated on the parish
boundary between Croughton and Newbottle. It lies at the head of a tributary
valley just south of the watershed between the Great Ouse and the
Thames/Cherwell. The remains, which are principally located on the west side
of the valley, take the form of buried archaeological deposits identified by
aerial and geophysical survey, fieldwalking and partial excavation.
In the north eastern part of the monument a watercourse rises and runs
south westwards through a modern culvert to the field boundary where it
becomes an open channel; both the spring and the culvert are now buried.
Extending up the side of the valley to the west of the culvert is a roughly
rectangular area of concentrated settlement remains occupying about 5ha.
Immediately to the west of the water channel, and aligned with it, is a large
rectangular platform over 30m wide and 70m long, visible as a low earthwork.
Buried features identified by geophysical survey include a series of ditches
which outline superimposed trackways and enclosures representing successive
phases of buildings and other structures. A series of large subrectangular
enclosures, thought to represent a group of fields, is associated with a
number of trackways; one of these, which runs northwards along the side of the
hill slope, may be a droveway used for moving animals between the settlement
and pastureland to the north. Running north eastwards from the western corner
of the monument, on the north side of the present parish boundary, another
trackway extends in the direction of the spring. From the point at which these
two trackways meet a further trackway runs eastwards across the stream. Parts
of the large enclosures and principal trackways are contemporary with a
succession of smaller enclosures and trackways, principally aligned east-west
across the contours, which are believed to include house sites, garden plots
and paddocks. Many of these features are associated with concentrations of
material, identified by geophysical survey, which indicate intensive domestic,
agricultural or industrial use. The survival of below ground deposits was
demonstrated during the laying of a pipeline in 1991; these are thought to
include the remains of stone and timber buildings. Artefacts recovered in
systematic fieldwalking and chance finds indicate a period of occupation in
the 2nd-4th centuries with an increase in activity in the late 3rd-4th
The area of nucleated settlement is bounded on the south by a group of small
enclosures, also detected by geophysical survey, which lie along the south
side of the present field boundary. About 40m to the south east of these are
the buried remains of a rectangular building measuring about 30m by 8m and
aligned approximately north-south. This building was first identified in 1991
when a mosaic floor was partly excavated. The mosaic lies near the centre of
the building and features a circular panel containing a representation of the
Greek hero Bellerophon slaying the monster Chimaera. Bellerophon is depicted
mounted on a white horse, Pegasus, and with his right arm thrusts a spear into
the mouth of the monster which has a lion's head, a goat's body and a dragon's
tail. The circular panel is set in an octagon at the centre of two overlapping
squares which are bordered by braided ornament; together they form an eight-
pointed star which is set within a wider geometrical framework. The mosaic,
which is constructed of tesserae cut from limestone and sandstone, has been
dated to the later 4th century. During re-excavation and cleaning of the
mosaic in 1993 archaeological evidence for the destruction of the building,
characterised by a layer of burnt mortar, wood, tile and painted plaster
overlying the floor, was found. Impressions of the stone walls and reed
ceiling of the room were found on the plaster fragments. The building in which
the mosaic lies is thought to be a villa of simple rectangular type including
a range of rooms without a corridor. Fragments of box-flue tiles and other
material indicate the presence of a hypocaust. Significant quantities of 2nd
to 4th century pottery and tile have been recovered during systematic
fieldwalking in the area of the villa, and to the south and west where stone
scatters and traces of activity identified by geophysical survey are believed
to include features associated with the villa such as building and garden
remains. The course of a trackway has been identified running southwards from
the villa through these features.
On the east side of the watercourse are further features identified by
geophysical and aerial survey including a trackway, enclosures, and linear
boundaries running up the hill slope away from both the nucleus of the
settlement and the area of the villa. These boundaries and enclosures are
believed to be largely agricultural, representing animal enclosures and field
boundaries. Further enclosures and linear features have also been identified
in the north eastern part of the monument. Systematic fieldwalking in both of
these areas has indicated a date range of the 2nd-4th centuries suggesting
that these remains are contemporary with other parts of the settlement.
All modern fences and gates are excluded from the scheduling, although the
ground beneath these features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

The remains of the Roman settlement north east of Rowler are rare in including
both an extensive nucleated settlement and an associated villa. Villa
buildings usually include a well appointed dwelling house partly or wholly
built of stone. Roofs were generally tiled and the house could feature mosaic
floors, underfloor heating, wall plaster and glazed windows. Many had
integral or separate suites of heated baths. The house was usually accompanied
by ranges of buildings providing accommodation for farm labourers, workshops
and storage for agricultural produce. These were often arranged around a
courtyard and were surrounded by a complex of paddocks, pens, yards and
features such as vegetable plots, granaries and threshing floors. Villa
buildings were constructed throughout the period of Roman occupation, from the
first to the fourth centuries AD. They could serve a wide variety of uses
alongside agricultural activities, including administrative, recreational,
craft and religious functions. The least elaborate villas served as simple
farmhouses. Villa owners tended to be drawn from the elite of Romano-British
society: while some villas belonged to immigrant Roman officials or
entrepreneurs, the majority seem to have been in the hands of wealthy natives
with a more or less Romanised lifestyle. Roman villa buildings are widespread,
with between 400 and 1000 examples recorded nationally. They are found
throughout lowland Britain and occasionally beyond. Roman villas provide a
valuable index of the rate, extent and degree to which native British society
became Romanised, as well as indicating the sources of inspiration behind
changes of taste and custom. In addition, they serve to illustrate the
agrarian and economic history of the Roman province, allowing comparisons over
wide areas both within and beyond Britain. As a very diverse and often long
lived type of monument, the great majority of the known examples are
identified as nationally important.
The villa building at this monument is rare in containing mosaic flooring
which survives in good condition and includes an intact representation of a
very rare historiated scene. The understanding of the motif is enhanced by
extensive documentation of its occurrence at other sites. Partial excavation
of the archaeological layers above the mosaic has enabled the nature and
importance of the building to be recognised while leaving the majority of
deposits intact. The survival of the mosaic and associated wall plaster
fragments also suggests a high potential for the recovery of a variety of
artefacts which will tell us about domestic, economic, religious and
industrial activity on the site. The preservation of organic material and
evidence for the physical environment of the settlement during the period of
occupation is also likely in water channels, ditches and pits. The application
of non-destructive methods of archaeological investigation to the monument has
enabled the date, character and extent of the remains to be determined. The
settlement, including the villa complex, can thus be quite closely dated to a
limited historical period and will preserve evidence of its development over
this period. The survival of the different parts of the settlement and the
relationships between them will inform us about the social and economic
context of domestic, agricultural and industrial activity on the site. As one
of a group of Roman settlements within a specific tribal and administrative
zone the monument may also tell us how this settlement functioned in the wider
rural landscape. An understanding of this monument will therefore contribute
to our knowledge of Roman settlement in general, both within the region and

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Shaw, M, Masters, P, Roman Settlement at Rowler Farm, Croughton, Northamptonshire, (1995)
Tyrrell, R, Painted Wall Plaster from Croughton, near Brackley, (1991)
'The Independent' in The Independent, (1991)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Ancient Monument Laboratory, Croughton Roman Site: Field loop magnetic susceptibility surveys, (1994)
Fleming, A, (1995)
Northampton Museum, Curteis, Mark, Coins found at Croughton c SP 550 355 by G Heritage, (1991)
Northampton Museum, Curteis, Mark, Coins found at Croughton c SP 550 355 by G Heritage, (1991)
Northamptonshire Heritage, Site reference 5717/1/2,
Payne, A, (1995)
report on watching brief 5/7/91, Cadman, G.E., Record Number 5535004 (Croughton gas pipeline), (1991)
Site code 492, Blore, Frances, Work undertaken at Croughton Roman settlement, Northamptonshire, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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