Ancient Monuments

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Roman camp at Upton Heath, beside the water tower north of Long Lane

A Scheduled Monument in Upton-by-Chester, Cheshire West and Chester

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Latitude: 53.2194 / 53°13'9"N

Longitude: -2.8737 / 2°52'25"W

OS Eastings: 341755.856562

OS Northings: 369505.860093

OS Grid: SJ417695

Mapcode National: GBR 7B.14G5

Mapcode Global: WH887.TBQS

Entry Name: Roman camp at Upton Heath, beside the water tower north of Long Lane

Scheduled Date: 2 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1014374

English Heritage Legacy ID: 25722

County: Cheshire West and Chester

Civil Parish: Upton-by-Chester

Built-Up Area: Chester

Traditional County: Cheshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cheshire

Church of England Parish: Upton The Holy Ascension

Church of England Diocese: Chester


The monument includes a Roman camp identified by aerial photography in 1986
and 1989, situated on the former heathland at Upton-by-Chester. It is one of
five similar sites all of the same shape and roughly the same size within the
square kilometre between Acres Lane and Long Lane, with an outlier at Plas
Newton School 200m to the south of the junction of Long Lane and the lane
leading to Upton Grange Farm. Since there are so many of these camps grouped
together, it is suggested that they were constructed as practice camps by
troops from the garrison at Chester.
The camp is enclosed by a ditch and is rectangular, with the corners rounded
in the shape of a playing card. The longer sides are 150m east to west and the
shorter sides 100m, enclosing an area of 1.5ha. The north west corner of this
enclosure has been built over and consequently destroyed by the building of a
water tower and the water pipes that attend it. There is a possible entrance
midway along the east side of the enclosure. An excavation through a section
of the ditch in 1987 showed that it is 1.5m wide and 1.45m deep with a V-cut
bottom. Inside the ditch there was a rampart, now barely visible, which has
been spread by ploughing but was originally 6m wide at the base. The ditch
filled up with silt immediately after it had been dug, suggesting no permanent
occupation of the interior. A possible outer bank or counterscarp was recorded
by the RCHME in 1989.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman camps are rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures which were
constructed and used by Roman soldiers either when out on campaign or as
practice camps; most campaign camps were only temporary overnight bases and
few were used for longer periods. They were bounded by a single earthen
rampart and outer ditch and in plan are always straight-sided with rounded
corners. Normally they have between one and four entrances, although as many
as eleven have been recorded. Such entrances were usually centrally placed in
the sides of the camp and were often protected by additional defensive
outworks. Roman camps are found throughout much of England, although most
known examples lie in the midlands and north. Around 140 examples have been
identified and, as one of the various types of defensive enclosure built by
the Roman Army, particularly in hostile upland and frontier areas, they
provide an important insight into Roman military strategy and organisation.
All well-preserved examples are identified as being of national importance.

The Roman camp beside the water tower at Upton is one of a group of practice
camps connected with the military occupation of the fortress at Chester.
Examples of these are rare and they will provide evidence of the construction
and function of Roman earthwork camps in the British Isles. The camp survives
reasonably well despite the spreading of the rampart by ploughing in more
recent years. The interior will also contain evidence for the occupation,
including pits for latrines and traces of any temporary building on the site.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Higham, N, A Cropmark at Upton Grange, (1987)
Ainsworth, S, 'Journal of the Chester Arch. Soc.' in Two Rectangular Enclosures at Stamford Heath, (1988), 81-85
Cheshire SMR, Collens, J and Philpott, R, (1989)
Cheshire SMR, Higham, N, (1986)
Cheshire SMR, Wilson North, R, Enclosure on Upton Heath, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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