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Mount Batten: prehistoric and Romano-British settlement

A Scheduled Monument in Plymstock Radford, Plymouth

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Latitude: 50.3592 / 50°21'33"N

Longitude: -4.1276 / 4°7'39"W

OS Eastings: 248760.598644

OS Northings: 53201.563915

OS Grid: SX487532

Mapcode National: GBR NX.VMML

Mapcode Global: FRA 2872.XG1

Entry Name: Mount Batten: prehistoric and Romano-British settlement

Scheduled Date: 4 September 1991

Last Amended: 8 December 1997

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1017598

English Heritage Legacy ID: 29629

County: Plymouth

Electoral Ward/Division: Plymstock Radford

Built-Up Area: Plymstock

Traditional County: Devon

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Devon


The monument includes an extensive midden deposit of later Bronze Age to Iron
Age date, Roman occupation deposits, and burials of the 17th century, located
close to the shore of Clovelly Bay on the eastern side of the limestone
promontory of Mount Batten which projects into the upper eastern reaches of
Plymouth Sound and the Cattewater.
The Mount Batten headland has been identified by Professor Cunliffe as a major
port and commercial trading centre during the late prehistoric period which
survived as a coastal port into Roman times. A series of excavations and
evaluations over the years has revealed an area of deposits associated with
settlement and indicating a continuity in the use of the site from the Late
Bronze Age into the Romano-British period. The character of the deposits is
that of a midden formed of a stratified sequence of layers of refuse in which
were found animal bones and significant quantities of marine mollusc shells,
as well as pottery sherds and metalwork representative of the Late Bronze Age
period. A collection of Celtic coins of the first part of the first century BC
was also recovered although the Late Iron Age occupation is less precisely
defined in the upper levels of the midden. The latest prehistoric deposits
were further sealed by turf and soil accumulated during a period of Roman
occupation which extended at least into the early third century AD. A number
of burials from a 17th century cemetery have been recorded across the site and
cutting into the midden. The depth of the archaeologically significant deposit
has been shown to be approximately 0.8m, of which between 0.35m-0.5m might be
properly described as midden material. The midden, where it has survived
quarrying, mining for iron, and the construction of buildings associated with
its use as an RAF base, has been closely defined by excavation and evaluation
and has been shown to cover an area of approximately 3,600sqm lying below
modern ground surfaces.
Excluded from the scheduling are all modern walls, tarmac, concrete aprons,
road, pavement, and other surfaces, the make-up for modern surfaces, lamp
posts, railings, and modern steps, although the ground beneath all of these
features is included.

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

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Excavation has demonstrated that Mount Batten is one of only a small number of
major prehistoric ports of trade known from Britain, the only comparable site
known on the south coast being Hengistbury Head in Hampshire. The high
quality of occupation evidence, including fine wares, and bronzes (some of
which were produced locally but copying Mediterranean styles) suggests
continental trade and influence during the Late Bronze Age. Later, in the Late
Iron Age, the presence of Armorican and British coins suggests Iron Age
contact between the local tribal group and the south English tribal groups of
the Durotriges and the Dobunni and through them to the peoples of Armorica.
Despite the effects of quarrying, 17th century burials, and modern
disturbances, the surviving midden of Late Bronze Age to Late Iron Age date
and the overlying Romano-British occupation deposits are known to preserve a
wealth of archaeological and ecological material. This material will provide
important information on the social and economic life of a prosperous
manufacturing and entrepreneurial prehistoric community with foreign links
which survived into the Roman period at which point it probably became
assimilated into the Roman world. Excavations have removed only a small
percentage of the surviving midden deposits, the true extent of which are
known from archaeological survey.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hawkes, J, Cotton, J, Mount Batten, Plymouth:Archaeological Field Evaluation: Hanger 3, (1996)
Hawkes, J, Cotton, J, Mount Batten, Plymouth:Archaeological Field Evaluation: Hanger 3, (1996)
Cunliffe, B, 'OUCA Monograph' in Mount Batten, Plymouth: A Prehistoric and Roman Port, (1988)
Cunliffe, B, 'OUCA Monograph' in Mount Batten, Plymouth: A Prehistoric and Roman Port, (1988)
Gaskell Brown, C, Hugo, T E, 'Proceedings of the Devon Archaeological Society' in Prehistoric and Romano-British Finds from Mount Batten, Devon, , Vol. 41, (1983), 69-74
Sellwood, L, 'Oxford Journal of Archaeology' in The Mount Batten Celtic Coins, , Vol. 2(2), (1983), 199-211
Spence Bate, C, 'Archaeologia' in On the discovery of a Romano-British cemetery near Plymouth, , Vol. 40.2, (1871), 500-10
Worth, R N, 'Report of the Transactions of the Devonshire Association' in Crouched internments at Mount Batten, , Vol. 23, (1891), 119-24
Hawkes, J and Cotton, J, Mount Batten, Plymouth: Archaeological Field Evaluation: Zone D, (1995)
Hawkes, J and Cotton, J, Mount Batten, Plymouth: Archaeological Field Evaluation: Zone D, (1995)
Hawkes, J, Archaeological evaluation on Stamford Hill, (1997)
Richards, J C, Mount Batten UDC Archaeological Survey, (1993)

Source: Historic England

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