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Roman field system and drove at Pode Hole Farm

A Scheduled Monument in Thorney, Peterborough

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Latitude: 52.6169 / 52°37'0"N

Longitude: -0.1364 / 0°8'11"W

OS Eastings: 526261.87004

OS Northings: 303760.121081

OS Grid: TF262037

Mapcode National: GBR HZ8.VQR

Mapcode Global: WHHND.WH64

Entry Name: Roman field system and drove at Pode Hole Farm

Scheduled Date: 19 September 1996

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1015503

English Heritage Legacy ID: 20802

County: Peterborough

Civil Parish: Thorney

Traditional County: Cambridgeshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cambridgeshire

Church of England Parish: Thorney Abbey St Mary and St Botolph

Church of England Diocese: Peterborough


The monument includes part of a Roman drove, with an associated field system
and enclosures containing building platforms which survive as upstanding
earthworks. They are located to the west of Thorney village, on a gravel
terrace which, during the Roman period, was close to the western edge of the
peat fen.

In the north eastern part of the site are the remains of two rectangular
earthen platforms, raised approximately 0.3m above the prevailing ground
surface, whose original dimensions were in the order of 18m-20m by 15m. These
are interpreted as the sites of buildings. The drove runs eastwards from
these for a distance of approximately 93m, then turns north, defining two
sides of a rectilinear enclosure. It is visible as a broad, linear hollow
approximately 0.4m deep in the ground surface and 9m wide, within which are
slight traces of two ditches, now largely infilled, to either side of the
central track. Approximately 80m south of this, and following a parallel
east-west course, are traces of two ditches, set 4m apart and defining what
appears to be a second drove. The building platforms and droves are the focus
of a series of regularly planned fields and enclosures which extend to the
east and south and are of varying size, ranging from approximately 30m to 140m
in width east-west. They are defined by a rectilinear network of ditches
which is connected to the droves and follows the same alignment, and by low
earthen banks which may have been planted with hedges. The ditches are
visible as linear hollows 3m-4m wide and approximately 0.3m deep. A
number of later ditches, visible as slight, linear hollows, cut across this
system on a north west - south east alignment, similar to that of the modern
ditch boundaries.

The earthworks were at the heart of a field system, the remains of which are
revealed by crop marks and have been recorded by means of air photography,
extending across adjacent arable fields and covering an area of at least 24ha.
This part of the site defined by crop marks is, however, excluded from the

Farm buildings and associated yard surfaces on the western side are excluded
from the scheduling, as are a water trough and supply pipe and all field
boundary fences and gates, although the ground beneath all these features is

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

During the Roman period, particularly during the second century AD, the fen
silts and areas bordering the peat fens were extensively and often densely
occupied and farmed. The Roman field systems in the Fenland were often laid
out around or between small settlements of no more than a few farmsteads,
although some may reflect land division and land management on a more widely
organised scale. Sometimes they may be associated with a major landscape
feature, such as a road or canal. They comprised more or less regular blocks
of rectangular or sub-rectangular enclosures, often aligned along and linked
by droves and sometimes covering large areas, although most are less than
200ha in extent. Both fields and droves were defined by ditches, sometimes
with adjoining banks, which may remain visible on the ground as earthworks.
The field systems are, however, recognisable primarily through air
photography in which the rectilinear pattern shows up in crop marks, soil
marks or relief lines. The pattern of the fields and droves in the Fens
suggests a concern chiefly with stock management, although arable agriculture
will also have played some part. Many field systems have been recorded in the
region, and although almost all have been levelled by later agriculture, many
of the levelled systems will nevertheless retain archaeological features of
national importance. These, and all field systems which retain identifiable
upstanding earthworks, are considered to be worthy of protection.

The earthworks at Pode Hole Farm survive very well and include a good range of
different features. Archaeological information concerning the organisation
and use of the field system as a whole, including evidence of farming practice
on the site and of the local environment at that time, will be contained in
the fill of the ditches bordering the drove and enclosures, in deposits
beneath the surface of the enclosures, and in and beneath the field banks and
building platforms. The building platforms will also preserve rare evidence of
associated agricultural structures

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hall, D N, 'East Anglian Archaeology' in The Fenland Project 2: Cambridgeshire, Peterborough to March, , Vol. 35, (1987), 66
Plot of Air Photographs at 1:10000, Hall, D N & Palmer, R, Fenland Evaluation Project: Cambridgeshire, Thorney 8, (1990)

Source: Historic England

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